In a short time since NASA Perseverance Rover It landed on the Jezero Crater on Mars on February 18, 2021, and has already made history.
At the moment, Mars and Earth are on the other side of the Sun, and the two planets are Can’t communicate with each other.. After working non-stop during the last 216 Mars days, the science team has taken the first real break since the mission began.
Perseverance has tested all its engineering capabilities. 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers) Taken over rugged terrain Tens of thousands of photos With that 19 cameras.. Among all these incredible successes, there are three major milestones that we are particularly excited about. The first collection of rock core samples, the flight of an Ingenuity helicopter, and the publication of the first scientific results on the Jezero Crater Delta.
One of the main purposes of Perseverance is Sample caching system A small rock core (approximately the size of a dry erase marker) is extracted and sealed in a special sample tube. Then pick them up in future missions and take them back to Earth on a long interplanetary journey.
for First drilling attempt at Perseverance In August, our team chose a nice flat rock that was easily accessible with a drill. After evaluating the bedrock for 6 days and the last excavation, I was thrilled to see a hole in the ground and confirm that the sample tube was properly sealed. But the next day, Rover sent me a photo of the inside of the tube, so it was actually empty. Part of the atmosphere on Mars is trapped inside, which is useful for research, but that’s not what the team wanted.
Ultimately, our team concluded that the rock itself was much softer than expected and was completely crushed during the excavation.
After three weeks and 1,800 feet (550 meters), I came across a promising rock protruding above the red surface. This suggested that the rocks were harder and therefore easier to sample. This time, Perseverance has succeeded in extracting and storing two core samples from greyish-wind-polished rocks. After collecting dozens more, drop the sample to a safe and easily accessible location on the surface of Mars. NASA Mars sample return The mission currently under development will pick up sample tubes and take them home in the late 2020s.
But scientists don’t have to wait too long to learn about rocks.On both sites, Perseverance Sherlock When PIXL A spectrometer on its arm to measure the composition of the rock. Crystalline minerals suggesting rocks formed by basaltic lava flows, Evidence of ancient groundwater..
Patience may be far from the earth, but it has a companion. NS Ingenuity helicopter Shortly after they landed on Mars, they left Rover and became the first aircraft to fly into the atmosphere of another planet.
Ingenuity is solar cell type, weight 4 lbs (1.8 kg), The body is about the size of a grapefruit. On April 19, 2021, the helicopter began its first flight, hovering 10 feet (3 meters) above the ground for 39 seconds and then descending straight. This short hop showed that its long blades could generate enough lift to enable flight in the thin air of Mars.
On the next flight, we tested the helicopter’s ability to move horizontally. The helicopter covers long distances every time, 2,050 feet (625 meters) On the farthest trip ever.
Ingenuity has now flown 13 times and has taken detailed photographs of the ground to scout the rugged terrain before Perseverance. These images help the team decide how to avoid obstacles on their way to Rover’s final destination, the large delta of the Jezero Crater.
Zoom in on Jezero Delta
Selected by NASA Jezero Crater as a landing point for patience In particular, to give the rover access to a large rocky mountain at the edge of a dry river valley.based on Satellite imageScientists believe that these rocks are made up of sediments deposited by ancient rivers that roughly flowed into the lake. 3.5 billion years ago.. If so, this place may have been a wonderful environment for life.
However, the resolution of satellite data is not sufficient to reliably determine whether sediments have slowly deposited in long-lived lakes or whether structures have formed under drier conditions. The only sure way to know was to take an image from the surface of Mars.
Perseverance landing It is more than a mile away from the cliffs in front of the Delta.We are both on the team in charge Must Come-Z A set of cameras with a zoom lens that allows you to see paper clips from the other side of the musical instrument and soccer field. During the first few weeks of the mission, we used Mastcam–Z to investigate distant rocks.From those panoramic views, we have selected specific spots for a more detailed view on the rover SuperCam, Telescopic camera.
When the image returned to Earth, a sloping layer of sediment was seen at the bottom of a 260-foot (80-meter) high cliff. Towards the summit, I found a boulder as large as 5 feet (1.5 meters) in diameter.
From the structure of these formations, our team was able to reconstruct the geological story of billions of years ago. Release In the journal Science on October 7, 2021.
For a long time (some millions of years), a river flowed into a lake that filled the Jezero crater. The river slowly deposited a layer of sloping sediment found on the delta cliffs. After that, the river was almost dry, except for some big floods. These events had enough energy to bring large rocks into the river channels and deposit them on top of old sediments. These are the rocks we are seeing on the cliff now.
Since then, the climate has been dry and the wind has slowly eroded the rocks.
Confirming that there was a lake in the Jezero Crater was the first major scientific achievement of the mission. Next year, patience will drive to the top of the Delta, along the way to microscopically study the rock formations and collect many samples. When those samples finally reach Earth, we will learn if they contain signs of microbial life that may have once prospered in this ancient lake on Mars.
[Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.]
Follow all Expert Voices issues and discussions on Facebook and Twitter and become part of the discussion. The expressed views are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.
The First Great Success of Patience on Mars — What’s New from Mission Scientists
Source link The First Great Success of Patience on Mars — What’s New from Mission Scientists