Rover Perseverance marked one year of work on Mars and came to a number of interesting findings
The Mars rover Perseverance, which the American Space Agency (NASA) sent to Mars a year ago, has successfully completed a series of tests so far and has led to interesting findings that will be useful for further research on the red planet, NASA reported.
We remind you that the rover landed on the surface of Mars on February 18, 2021. Weighing just over a ton, it’s also the heaviest rover to ever land on Mars while sending back images to Im Gonn of the dramatic landing.
The vehicle has collected rock samples so far and currently carries six sample tubes in its cargo hold. At the same time, it serves as a base station for the first Martian helicopter Ingenuity.
In addition, Ingenuity is equipped with a device called MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment), the first prototype generator to create oxygen on our neighbor planet.
Perseverance broke records for the longest distance traveled in one day, the rover on the 14th traveled as much as 320 meters. He traveled the route using a self-navigation system that allows the rover to choose his own route and avoid larger rocks and other obstacles.
The rover has almost completed its first scientific mission in the Jezero crater, a location where scientists claim a lake was located billions of years ago and where one of the oldest rocks that scientists have so far been able to partially examine is located. Namely, those rocks hold the answers to the question of whether ancient microscopic life once existed on Mars. Using a drill on the end of a robotic arm and a sophisticated sample collection system, Perseverance is crushing rocks from the crater floor as the first step in a mission to ship those samples back to Earth for further testing in the future.
Thomas Zurbuchen, the assistant administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said that the samples collected by Perseverance will allow us to learn more about the formation of Jezero Crater.
Craters reveal the age of the planet
In the coming weeks, the rover is scheduled to collect two more soil samples, more precisely, samples of the dark rock found in large quantities at the bottom of the crater, which may be able to provide answers about its age and the lake once flowing there.
Scientists can partially determine the age of a planet by counting craters created by the impact of celestial bodies. Older surfaces had more time to accumulate impact craters of various sizes.
Katie Stack Morgan, Deputy of Science Project Perseverance says they are now using what they know about craters on the Moon and applying it to the study of craters on Mars.
“By sending rock samples from the crater to Earth, we could accurately determine the age of the crater instead of relying on calculations,” she explains for Picuki.
During the year, the project encountered challenges. We remind you that the first attempt to drill a hole in the rock was unsuccessful because the rover was unable to collect the samples in a special titanium tube. Scientists then announced the rover was most likely drilling in loose soil, which made the mission unsuccessful, unlike the subsequent ones that passed without problems.
The Ingenuity Martian helicopter was sent with the goal of making a maximum of five flights. When constructing the helicopter, scientists tried to solve the problem of the much thinner atmosphere that surrounds Mars. It is known that flying aircraft in such conditions is very difficult and sometimes impossible. Therefore, scientists from NASA made the helicopter with three shorter propellers that rotate much faster than the helicopter propellers we use on Earth. They hoped that the helicopter would manage to fly at least once, but the success paid off because, after the first successful flight, the aircraft continued to perform test flights and has completed as many as 19 flights. In addition, the aircraft was grounded for almost a month due to sand storms, but that didn’t stop the helicopter from working either. This spacecraft is very important because it can take pictures, and based on those pictures, the rover can plan the route of its trajectory.
The rover recorded the first sound from the red planet
The Perseverance rover is equipped with two microphones that recorded nearly five hours of the sound of the wind, vehicle engines, and wheels rolling on the rocky surface of the planet, reports NASA.
Five hours of audio material is a rich treasure trove of sounds that scientists will study in detail.
Baptist Chid, a scientist at the Institute of Astrophysics and Planetology in France who studies recorded sound, described the new findings as making you feel “as if you were really on the planet”.
“The sounds from Mars are full of strong vibrations, so you can really feel them when you put the headphones on. The importance of the recorded sound is that in the future, microphones will be an important part of the mission to study Mars,” said Chid.
Perseverance is the first vehicle to record sound on the red planet using commercially available microphones.
One microphone is mounted on the chassis of the vehicle while the other is located on the mast where the SuperCam, a laser instrument that studies rocks and the atmosphere, is mounted.
The rover’s main mission is to search for evidence of ancient life. The rover is analyzing the planet’s geological history and past climate behavior to pave the way for the launch of the first human mission to Mars.
But before that, NASA plans in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), to send a spacecraft to Mars to collect tubes of rock samples that Perseverance will collect and bring them back to Earth for full analysis.