Home LATEST NEWS First anniversary of Perseverance on Mars

First anniversary of Perseverance on Mars

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After a perfectly executed but highly stressful landing for those in charge of the mission, the robot quickly sent a message to the Earthlings from its final destination, the Jezero crater: Hello everybody. Here is a first image of the house that will be mine forever.

The first image of the Martian surface captured by the Perseverance robot.

The first image of the Martian surface captured by the Perseverance robot.

Photo: NASA

Jezero is an impact crater 49 kilometers in diameter. It is the most inhospitable place ever chosen to land a Mars probe, but it could contain traces of ancient microbial life on Mars, the main objective of this mission.

Reconstruction of the crater as it might have appeared when there was water on the surface of Mars.

Reconstruction of the crater as it appeared when there was water on the surface of Mars, a few billion years ago. The landing zone is located in the northwestern part, at the outlet of the stream that once entered the crater.

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Over the past 12 months, the seven instruments with which the robot is equipped have made it possible to collect information on the weather conditions, the atmosphere and the mineralogy of the planet, in addition to taking thousands of images.

Some of these images justify the judicious choice of the landing site by those in charge of the mission. They show a set of sedimentary strata which, on Earth, are typical of those observed in the deltas of certain rivers. These observations tend to confirm the lacustrine past of the crater, 3.6 billion years ago.

Panoramic image taken on February 20, 2021 by the navigation cameras of the Perseverance rover.Enlarge imageHave (New window)Have

Panoramic image taken on February 20, 2021 by the navigation cameras of the Perseverance rover. It was assembled from six separate images.

Photo: NASA

Ingenuity’s tour de force

On April 19, the small Ingenuity helicopter that accompanies Perseverance made the historic first flight of a motorized vehicle on a planet other than Earth.

Exceeding all expectations, Ingenuity has since completed 18 more outings, combined over 30 minutes of flight time and covered a distance of 3592 meters.

If the experiment was initially intended to test the technical possibilities of this machine resembling a drone, it quickly moved on to a mission to demonstrate its operational capabilities during which NASA engineers were able to test the capacity of the drone. helicopter to support the work of the Perseverance robot, for example by carrying out reconnaissance flights in order to guide its movements on the ground.

The Ingenuity helicopter spins its propellers on the surface of Mars.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter on Mars.

Photo: NASA

rock samples

During this first year, Perseverance collected seven samples of rock and regolith (dust produced by meteorite impacts). A first attempt to take a rock core failed on July 6, 2021 due to the friability of the rock fragments. The second attempt made on 1er September was a success.

Two holes made with the rover drill on a rock.

This image taken by Perseverance on September 7, 2021 shows two holes made with the robot’s drill on a rock nicknamed Rochette.

Photo: NASA

NASA plans to bring back to Earth about 30 samples hermetically sealed in 6 cm tubes kept inside the probe. The samples are placed inside the robot and will be left behind until a future US-European mission picks them up to bring them back to Earth in the early 2030s.

The US space agency announced on September 10 that some of the samples collected from the crater by the robot are likely volcanic rocks. She pointed out that the presence of salts in these samples is an indicator of favorable conditions for possibly detecting traces of ancient life.

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produce oxygen

The rover also successfully tested, on April 20, experimental equipment (MOXIE, for Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) designed to produce oxygen from carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere.

The MOXIE is lowered by cables.

The MOXIE when installed aboard Perseverance.

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

On its first attempt, MOXIE produced five grams of oxygen, enough to allow an astronaut performing normal activity to breathe for 10 minutes.

This type of equipment, if it becomes operational, will make it possible to greatly reduce the mass of oxygen to be carried by Martian missions by producing oxygen on site from local resources.

According to NASA, this process could make it possible to produce the oxygen necessary for the survival of the astronauts, but it could also make it possible to avoid transporting from Earth large quantities of oxygen essential to the propulsion of the rocket for the trip of the return.

On the way to the delta

Over the next few weeks, Perseverance will head towards the delta which is two kilometers from its current position. Its instruments will analyze the environment and scientists hope to find concrete evidence of past life on the neighboring planet of Earth. This second year of work by the rover therefore promises new discoveries and could perhaps even redefine our knowledge about the evolution of Mars.

The Jezero Crater Delta on Mars.

The Jezero Crater Delta on Mars.

Photo: NASA

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