Features of Mars Persistence Rover

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The restraint has come. 18, NASA’s most ambitious rover ever made the nearly seven-month journey from Earth to begin a year-long exploration of the Red Planet.

Weighing a ton and costing more than $2 billion to design, build and authenticate, Perseverance has a broader goal: to find unprecedented evidence of ancient life on another planet other than ours. We. Like the moon landing half a century ago, it is a prime example of human Ingenuity during difficult times.

seven minutes in hell

Luckily for the Perseverance team, the hardest part of the mission was behind them. Double the difficulty: the challenges of landing a plane on another planet and being completely unable to do anything to support its human pilots.

As demonstrated in previous Mars missions, it took about seven minutes for the vehicle to hit the surface since it entered the planet’s atmosphere, traveling at 12,000 mph. The high-speed landing and 11 minutes of radio signals to travel between Earth and Mars meant that the NASA crew could do nothing but wait and pray.

NASA calls this the “Seven Minutes of Terror,” where a combination of high risk and human helplessness has everyone in the control room wondering if the years of building the most sophisticated rover in history have whether or not an accident ends abruptly without results.

Two other factors work against Persistence. First, it’s easily the heaviest rover NASA has ever attempted to land on Mars at one ton. Second, its destination – Jezero Crater, considered the most likely site to find signs of ancient microbial life – is a high-risk/high-reward option fraught with potential dangers. Steep rocks and cliffs.

Fortunately, Persistence remains, aided by two new technologies its predecessors lacked. One, a range trigger, allows the operator to decide when to deploy his 70-foot parachute. The second, called terrain-related navigation, essentially gives solid vision and a map to ensure it touches down safely. Alan Chen, the mission’s entry, landing, and landing team leader, doubts that Jezero Crater would be a viable landing point if these two advances do not happen.

Looking for life in all the honorable places

As described by then-NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine before last year’s launch, Perseverance was “the first time in history that we’re going to Mars on a mission that is looking for life on a planet that’s known to be on Earth.” another world – Mars but ancient life.”

The landing site chosen to find evidence of life on Mars – past or present – is of paramount importance. Endurance has reached the 28-mile-wide Jezero crater on Mars, which scientists believe was once a body of water roughly the size of Lake Tahoe. Zero also has a central canal, suggesting that water once flowed freely to or from the ancient lake. The lake once was hundreds of feet deep, given the crater’s depth.

All this water movement is a very intriguing phenomenon for scientists looking for life: sediments deposited in the vast plains of the crater’s bowl-like stratum. If microorganisms existed on Mars, that’s one of its possible locations. The reason is that the earliest life forms on Earth occurred under similar scenarios about 3.5 billion years ago – when scientists believed there was still enough water flowing on Mars.

Persistence’s primary mission is to detect the kinds of “biological shapes” that, if life ever existed on Mars, might have been scattered in the sediments on the floor of Jezero Crater. Doing so could provide a definite answer as to whether Earth is the sole source of life in our solar system.

Space Helicopters?

Yes, space helicopters. Endurance is the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter with 300,000,000 miles. Weighing four pounds, the boy is no more than a quadruped flying camera.

More than anything, Ingenuity was an interplanetary test flight. Its primary purpose is to demonstrate that a helicopter can fly in the fragile atmosphere of Mars – a feat that increasingly requires more lift. For this reason, Ingenuity has four specially built carbon fiber propellers, arranged in two propellers that rotate in opposite directions at about 2,400 rpm – many times faster than the helicopter above. The Earth. The cold is another challenge. Nighttime temperatures on Mars drop to -90°C, which will push the limits of Ingenuity’s components.

The inability to control dexterity in real-time poses another obstacle. While Persistence deliberately moves along the ground, a rover like Ingenuity makes it impossible to proceed with a joystick because the command signals take too long to reach Mars. Therefore, Ingenuity will take pre-orders, then the batch will fly at their disposal. It is also responsible for assessing the battery using its solar panel – a task that is not long-term due to its new nuclear battery.

As if the first object to fly by a distant planet wasn’t enough, Ingenuity has another job: monitoring. The Copter has a high-resolution downward-facing camera that, in addition to helping with navigation, can survey, such as landing right on top of a hill. The goal was to identify potential points of interest for the purposeful slow-moving Persistence controller analysis.

armed and ready

The company’s most striking feature is its sophisticated seven-foot robotic arm. Designed to mimic a human appendage for easy maneuverability from Earth, the exemplar extension of the steel cord comes complete with rotating shoulders, elbows, and “wrists.” It even has a gripper that serves, as much as possible, like a human hand – a robotic version of Mother Nature, the most prominent tool ever made.

The durable arm can reach the majority of its science-focused parts, allowing it to use the “arm to sample cores from the ground, take microscopic images of its surroundings, and analyze its composition.” elemental and mineral composition of Martian rocks.” for efficient access to your tools and land.

Its rotary percussion drill is particularly impressive. The sophisticated instrument – created partly by Persistence’s turret-like arm – uses rotation to penetrate the Martian surface and collect precious samples from it. Equipped with various drill bits for multiple purposes – especially for scraping the top layers to expose subcutaneous areas – the self-sealing system is inserted directly into the collection tubes by a robotic arm.

Another sampling tool is PIXL, which looks for texture and chemical changes in Martian rocks and soil to detect signs of ancient life. PIXL will study candidate samples to help identify the most scientifically exciting targets for further testing.

Listen

Persistence is equipped with a pair of sophisticated, highly detailed microphones. This is the first time they have been sent to another planet and gives NASA the first ability to eavesdrop on our next-door neighbor. First and foremost, the rover will record the winds whistling over Mars — notoriously strong and prone to dusting, practically ending the previous rover’s usefulness by covering irreversible solar panels it has created.

Lagna must be listening too… myself. The lack of wheels on the surface would not only provide evidence of the continued viability of the rover. Still, it could also give some insight into the composition of the Martian soil.

In particular, it is possible that the appearance of Perseverance was also detected by a companion spacecraft. In 2018, NASA anchored the InSight probe about 3,500 km (2,200 mi) away. InSight features seismographs to track earthquakes – or quakes – that shake the ground. Scientists believe it is possible that the probe could sense persistent lands on Mars.

This would be the first seismic detection of a known impact on another planet and could reveal more information about the interior of Mars, as such waves could help map geological features. Underground. Unfortunately, up until a few days before Perseverance arrived, InSight’s capabilities were degraded due to a build-up of dust on its solar panels. Details on whether she has “heard” of her sister Explorer will be available soon.

nuclear batteries

To avoid the wind-blown chance of its predecessor – whose solar panels were covered in mud by a Martian dust storm, leaving it permanently crippled by lack of power – Persistence owns a generator. Electrical novelty is the nuclear battery.

The Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator provided endurance (MMRTG), supplied to NASA by the US Department of Energy. The 99-pound MMRTG recycles heat from the natural radioactive decay of more than 10 pounds of plutonium-238 into a steady electric current. It will generate about 110 watts at the start of Perseverance’s mission, then only drop a few percentage points per year.

MMRTG also charges two lithium-ion batteries used during daily operations and when the demand temporarily exceeds average power generation. This is especially necessary during breakout drilling, soil sampling, and endurance collection operations, which can require up to 900 watts of power.

In addition to providing endurance power, the MMRTG serves another helpful function: its additional heat will keep the rover’s many devices and systems at acceptable operating temperatures. While unfinished, it’s a definite step to avoid jeopardizing the mission with lousy weather.

Next step toward four human-crewed missions: Oxygen production

Besides the search for ancient life, perhaps an essential act of Persistence is the effort to prepare for human exploration of Mars. In that respect, the mission’s most ambitious initiative is the In-situ Oxygen Resource Usage Test on Mars, known as MOXI.

MOXIE’s mission is to demonstrate how astronauts could one day generate oxygen from the Martian atmosphere. The 37-pound, car battery-sized MOXIE produces oxygen like a tree: it “breathes” carbon dioxide (Mars’ atmosphere is about 96% carbon dioxide) and “outside” oxygen. This oxygen is needed not only (of course) for breathing but also as fuel since any human-crewed mission to return to Earth would require transport from the Red Planet.

Its goals were modest to keep endurance’s limited power supply for other endeavors: MOXIE conducted intermittent hour-long sessions, trying to produce about 10 grams – or 0.022 pounds – oxygen per test. Will do

To be able to launch to Mars, human explorers will need between 33 and 50 tons of fuel, equivalent to the weight of a spacecraft. The scientists suggest that any system capable of delivering such a significant portion of oxygen would need to be at least 100 times larger than MOXI, essentially a miniature gas plant of its own. It.

What is old is new

Ironically, some aspects of the most sophisticated, expensive rover ever built rely on technology from the 1990s.

For example, Perseverance has a radiation-hardened version of the IBM PowerPC microprocessor called the RAD750. It was initially designed by Motorola and IBM and was used primarily in satellites and avionics. And initially powered the Pentium 1 chip around 1992. The system was responsible for the processing. The entire avionics architecture of the aircraft was designed and programmed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Why this ancient technology? Because it was tested in battle.

“The closer you pack the transistors, the more susceptible you are to radiation,” said Richard Riber, JPL Mobility flight systems engineer. “With space hardware, you require high reliability, and RAD750 has had several hundred missions in space.”

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it — especially when building a phenomenal car, there are loads of other problems. The old-fashioned RAD750 computer works with Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) computers to control the powertrain, wheels, suspension, and the driver’s camera.

An FPGA, a Virtex-5, is also a bit outdated technically – but reliable enough to make a mission-critical straw: the module that assisted the atmospheric entry, landing, and the successful landing of Perseverance. Now that Perseverance is on the floor, this computer system will be reprogrammed from Earth to achieve dynamic image processing.

Send souvenirs to Mars

The rover features three microchips with about 11 million names, part of NASA’s uninnovatively named “Send Your Name to Mars” campaign. This represents a nine-fold increase over the last expedition, Curiosity, which carried about 1.2 million Earth names on the Red Planet. Persistence also goes to healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic, as it began in July 2020, months after the start of the crisis.

Other accessories are part function, part fun. For example, Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z is a zoomable scenic camera that welcomes potential non-Earths. It read: “Are we lonely? We are here to look for signs of life and collect samples of Mars for study on Earth. To those watching, we wish you a safe journey and a joy of discovery. “

Perhaps the most exciting thing about Perseverance’s extravagance is a coin made from the material that covers astronaut helmets — a nod to ground training, a foolish practice when using GPS to camouflage and find buried treasure. The coin is the amount of the calibration target of the SHERLOC device (Scan Habitat with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals). It is inscribed with its legendary name: 221b Baker Street, London, Older brother.

an extraordinary delivery

Hopefully, Perseverance will eventually deliver its most important gift to humanity: a decade from now, the Explorer aims to return the soil samples the rover has taken back to Earth. The ambitious plan, called Return to the Model Mars, includes three missions over the next ten years.

Like its predecessor, Curiosity, Perseverance has an onboard laboratory. But unlike its predecessors, Perseverance is equipped with a sophisticated sampling system that collects and packs rocks and soil on Mars for an unprecedented journey back to Earth.

Over the next two years, Perseverance will take samples using a drill that cuts a cylindrical core into the surface, collecting cross-sections of the soil. The darker the model, the farther it will recede in time – just like Earth.

After collecting and sealing approximately 40 core samples, Persistence would do something strange: put them down and take them away. At the end of the decade, a joint NASA-European Space Agency mission will launch the aptly named Sample Retriever lander to deliver the gifts of Perseverance. The vehicle will capture test samples, pack them into rockets and toss them into the sky – the first launch from another planet.

The rocket would then drop the basketball-sized package into the Red Planet’s orbit. Completing the interplanetary relay race, the giant Return Orbiter, the size of an airplane, will take samples from Mars orbit and return them to Earth. The transfer may contain signs of ancient alien life, the most astonishing achievement in space exploration to date.