MarsNews.com
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.

July 21st, 2020

How NASA Built a Self-Driving Car for Its Next Mars Mission

Like the self-driving cars on Earth, Perseverance will navigate using an array of sensors feeding data to machine vision algorithms.PHOTOGRAPH: NASA/JPL-CALTECH

Later this month, NASA is expected to launch its latest Mars rover, Perseverance, on a first-of-its-kind mission to the Red Planet. Its job is to collect and store geological samples so they can eventually be returned to Earth. Perseverance will spend its days poking the Jezero Crater, an ancient Martian river delta, and the samples it collects may contain the first evidence of extraterrestrial life. But first it has to find them. For that, it needs some damn good computers—at least by Martian standards.

Perseverance is significantly more autonomous than any of NASA’s previous four rovers and is designed to be what Philip Twu, a robotics system engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, calls a “self-driving car on Mars.” Like the ones on Earth, Perseverance will navigate using an array of sensors feeding data to machine vision algorithms. But whereas terrestrial autonomous vehicles are packed with the best computers money can buy, the main computer on Perseverance is about as fast as a high-end PC … from 1997. The only way Perseverance’s poky brain is able to handle all this autonomous driving is because NASA gave it a second computer that acts like a robotic driver.

July 20th, 2020

The United Arab Emirates successfully launches its first spacecraft bound for Mars

A screen broadcasting the launch of the “Hope” Mars probe at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai. Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

Today, the United Arab Emirates’ first interplanetary mission successfully took off from the southern tip of Japan, sending up a car-sized probe bound for the planet Mars. The launch marks the beginning of the country’s most ambitious space project yet, aimed at studying the weather on Mars as it evolves throughout the planet’s year.

The spacecraft, called Hope, took off on top of a Japanese H-IIA rocket from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center at 6:58AM at the launch site (or 5:58PM ET this afternoon on the East Coast of the US). The probe will now spend the next seven months traveling through deep space, periodically correcting its course with a series of engine burns. Then sometime in February of 2021, it’ll attempt to put itself into an elongated orbit around Mars, where it will analyze the atmosphere and climate throughout the course of each Martian day.

For the UAE, the timing of this launch was absolutely critical. The UAE government conceived of this project in 2014 to inspire young Emirati teens, and as a bold way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the nation’s founding in December 2021. To ensure that Hope is in orbit by the anniversary, the team behind the spacecraft had to launch this summer, during a small window when Earth and Mars come closest together during their orbits around the Sun. This planetary alignment happens once every 26 months, so the UAE team had to launch this year to meet the 2021 deadline.

July 13th, 2020

Mars missions: NASA, China and the UAE launch new spacecraft this month

We’re not sending astronauts to Mars yet, but July marks a significant month for launches to the red planet, aimed at seeking signs of life.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

With travel greatly restricted across the planet, you might feel a little jealous of the three robotic explorers scheduled to depart to Mars in the next month. From this week until mid-August, a bevy of spacecraft will depart Earth with a one-way ticket to the red planet, tasked with uncovering secrets about past life and the planet’s unusual atmosphere.

NASA will send the Perseverance rover, a next-gen wanderer that will explore an ancient lake bed, looking for evidence of alien life. The Chinese space agency is launching a triple threat: An orbiter, lander and rover are on a mission to make China just the third country to land on Mars. And then there’s Hope, the United Arab Emirates’ orbiter, set to study the Martian atmosphere like never before.

It might seem unusual so many Mars missions are launching in such a small amount of time, but I can assure you it’s not because the robots have achieved sentience and decided to flee the garbage fire that 2020 has become. It’s just physics.

May 21st, 2020

NASA Seeking US Citizens for Social Isolation Study for Moon and Mars Missions

Credits: NASA and the Institute for Biomedical Problems

Astronauts experience various aspects of social isolation and confinement during their missions, NASA researchers are working to develop methods and technologies to mitigate and counteract potential related problems on future spaceflight missions.

As many around the world are staying at home in response to the global coronavirus pandemic, NASA is preparing for its next spaceflight simulation study and is seeking healthy participants to live together with a small crew in isolation for eight months in Moscow, Russia. The analog mission is the next in a series that will help NASA learn about the physiological and psychological effects of isolation and confinement on humans in preparation for Artemis exploration missions to the Moon and future long-duration missions to Mars.

NASA is looking for highly motivated U.S. citizens who are 30-55 years old and are proficient in both Russian and English languages. Requirements are: M.S., PhD., M.D. or completion of military officer training. Participants with a Bachelor’s degree and other certain qualifications (e.g., relevant additional education, military, or professional experience) may be acceptable candidates as well.

April 14th, 2020

What A Simulated Mars Mission Taught Me About Food Waste

Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) Crew 214 – Oct 26 -Nov 10 – MSA ExBoomerang

As a food waste researcher, I’m interested in how humans prepare food, eat and manage leftovers. This interest is not just confined to Earth – it extends to other planets.

I recently spent two weeks at the Mars Desert Research Station in the US state of Utah, and experienced the intimate and challenging conditions of a Mars mission simulation. I was part of a small, isolated team of four with limited choice of food, preparation and cooking options.

I wanted to know how these conditions would affect the food waste we generated. This research is particularly pertinent now, as COVID-19 forces people into social isolation and raises the (real or imagined) risk of food scarcity.