MarsNews.com
April 22nd, 2021

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Just Turned Martian CO2 Into Oxygen

Image by NASA

A toaster-sized scientific instrument attached to NASA’s Perseverance rover just sucked up a bit of carbon dioxide from the surrounding Martian atmosphere and converted it into oxygen.

It’s a groundbreaking first that could lead to a future in which space travelers are not only able to generate air to breathe, but rocket fuel to get them back to Earth as well — while still on Mars.

The instrument, called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE), is a technology demonstration that could eventually be scaled up to produce enough propellant to enable a crew of astronauts to take off from the surface of the Red Planet.

“This is a critical first step at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen on Mars,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), in a statement. “MOXIE has more work to do, but the results from this technology demonstration are full of promise as we move toward our goal of one day seeing humans on Mars.”

April 19th, 2021

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Succeeds in Historic First Flight

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured this shot as it hovered over the Martian surface on April 19, 2021, during the first instance of powered, controlled flight on another planet. It used its navigation camera, which autonomously tracks the ground during flight.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Monday, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. The Ingenuity team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California confirmed the flight succeeded after receiving data from the helicopter via NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover at 6:46 a.m. EDT (3:46 a.m. PDT).

“Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “The X-15 was a pathfinder for the space shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover did the same for three generations of Mars rovers. We don’t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today’s results indicate the sky – at least on Mars – may not be the limit.”

The solar-powered helicopter first became airborne at 3:34 a.m. EDT (12:34 a.m. PDT) – 12:33 Local Mean Solar Time (Mars time) – a time the Ingenuity team determined would have optimal energy and flight conditions. Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds. It then descended, touching back down on the surface of Mars after logging a total of 39.1 seconds of flight. Additional details on the test are expected in upcoming downlinks.

Ingenuity’s initial flight demonstration was autonomous – piloted by onboard guidance, navigation, and control systems running algorithms developed by the team at JPL. Because data must be sent to and returned from the Red Planet over hundreds of millions of miles using orbiting satellites and NASA’s Deep Space Network, Ingenuity cannot be flown with a joystick, and its flight was not observable from Earth in real time.

April 14th, 2021

NASA’s InSight Mars lander is going into emergency hibernation. If it can’t save its batteries, it could die.

The InSight lander’s camera captured an image of one of its solar panels covered in dust on February 14. NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s $800 million Mars lander is in an energy crisis.

InSight, which landed in a Martian plain called Elysium Planitia in 2018, has detected more than 500 Mars quakes, felt more than 10,000 dust devils pass by, and started to measure the planet’s core.

But over the past few months, InSight has been fighting for its life as the red planet’s unpredictable weather threatens to snuff out the robot.

Unlike other sites where NASA has sent rovers and landers — including the landing spot of the new Perseverance rover and its Mars helicopter — powerful gusts of wind have not been sweeping Elysium Planitia. These winds, called “cleaning events,” are needed to blow the red Martian dust off the solar panels of NASA’s robots. Without their help, a thick layer of dust has accumulated on InSight, and it’s struggling to absorb sunlight.

InSight’s solar panels were producing just 27% of their energy capacity in February, when winter was arriving in Elysium Planitia. So NASA decided to start incrementally turning off different instruments on the lander. Soon the robot will go into “hibernation mode,” shutting down all functions that aren’t necessary for its survival.

March 29th, 2021

The Golden Box That Could Create Oxygen on Mars

MOXIE is already on the Red Planet. It’s now time to test it out.

Humanity’s future on Mars may depend on a golden box about the size of a car battery.

On February 18, NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars with this box, called MOXIE, nestled in its belly.

MOXIE was designed to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen on Mars, and NASA plans to put it to the test within the next few months. If it works as hoped, the instrument could play a key role in getting astronauts home from Mars — and maybe even help them survive while on the Red Planet.

NASA can’t send people to Mars until it knows it can also bring them back, and that means making sure the astronauts have enough rocket propellant for the return trip.

The most straightforward option is to send the propellant — a combination of oxygen and rocket fuel — to Mars with the astronauts.

March 23rd, 2021

The first self-sufficient and sustainable cities on Mars could house one million humans

Nüwa, the cliff city on Mars from ABIBOO Studio on Vimeo.

ABIBOO studio has led the architectural design of a self-sufficient and sustainable city on mars that could house one million humans. ‘nüwa’ forms part of an exhaustive scientific work for a competition organized by the mars society, and fully developed by the SONet network, an international team of scientists and academics led by astrophysicist guillem anglada, who headed the discovery of exoplanet proxima-b. considering the atmospheric conditions, ABIBOO chose the side of a cliff on mars to build a vertical city, with the design and construction systems a result of the planet’s harsh conditions. ‘if we were to construct the buildings as on earth, the buildings would tend to explode from the pressure,’ says says alfredo muñoz, founder of ABIBOO. ‘the solar and gamma radiation on mars forced us to build spaces that are not directly exposed to the sky.’

February 18th, 2021

NASA’s Perseverance Has Landed

An illustration of NASA’s Perseverance rover landing safely on Mars.

Cheers erupted in mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as controllers confirmed that NASA’s Perseverance rover, with the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter attached to its belly, has touched down safely on Mars. Engineers are analyzing the data flowing back from the spacecraft.

February 17th, 2021

China’s Tianwen-1 Mission Successfully Begins Mars Orbit

Tianwen-1 is now officially in orbit around Mars. (Chinese National Space Administration)

hina’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft successfully initiated its orbit around Mars, reports Zhao Lei for state-run media outlet China Daily. Tianwen-1 entered Mars orbit February 10 just before 8:00 p.m. Beijing time, reports Smriti Mallapaty for Nature.

The orbiter is carrying a lander and a rover that will attempt to touch down on the planet’s surface in roughly three months with the goal of studying Martian geology, soil and searching for signs of water, according to Nature. This achievement marks the first time China has travelled to another planet and its successful completion is a key step on the way to China’s ultimate goal of landing on the Red Planet for the first time.

February 10th, 2021

Hope spacecraft enters Mars orbit, making history for UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) made history on Tuesday when it became the first Arab nation to have a spacecraft reach Mars.

Following a seven-month flight to the red planet, the probe dubbed “Amal,” meaning “Hope,” entered Mars orbit after successfully completing a challenging braking maneuver that allowed it to be caught by Mars’ gravity.

The mission team tweeted confirmation of the spacecraft’s milestone with words: “7 years of work crowned with success!”

January 26th, 2021

NASA’s ‘Mars Helicopter’ Ingenuity will reach the Red Planet next month

Ingenuity and Perseverance should touch down on Mars February 18, 2021

Something to look forward to: NASA’s latest explorer rover is set to make contact with Mars’ surface next month, on February 18. It’s an important step for the space agency, and not just due to the rover itself: its cargo is equally important. The Perseverance rover is carrying the first-ever “Mars Helicopter,” aptly known as Ingenuity.

Ingenuity is a small, lightweight helicopter with two rotors, each made from durable carbon fiber. The rotors will spin in opposing directions, at speeds of “around 2,400 rpm,” which is “many times” faster than what you’d see on any passenger helicopter on Earth.

So, why are those speeds necessary, and why is Ingenuity so light? According to NASA, Mars’ extremely thin atmosphere is to blame. With much less usable air than Earth, any flying vehicle attempting to fly on the Red Planet would need considerably faster rotors to generate enough lift to get off the ground.

December 26th, 2020

NASA video shows Perseverance rover’s planned ‘terror’ landing on Mars

NASA has shown what it will look like when its Perseverance rover touches down on Mars, a challenging sequence that the agency describes as “7 minutes of terror.”

The Perseverance rover was launched in the summer and is scheduled to arrive on Mars in February [2021].

Once it reaches Mars’ atmosphere on its way to Jezero Crater, it must slow down from its speed of 12,000 mph in a span of 7 minutes, touch down on the rust-colored surface and disconnect from the main spacecraft.

Tuesday, NASA released an animation that showed the complex process.

The rover will carry state-of-the-art onboard cameras and microphones that will record the landing for NASA to study — if all goes well.