This story is part of it, our series explores the red planet.
NASA has re-sent what amounts to the ultimate driverless car to Mars., the rover formerly known as Mars 2020, to become the robot’s successor to NASA’s Curiosity, which it was .
This latest state-of-the-art planetary explorer comes from a long line of well-traveled bots with some big updates on her older siblings that should allow scientists to see, touch and – for the first time ever – hear to Mars with new methods.
Martian audio-visual club
An assortment of Mars rovers and orbiters sent a large number, but we are still actually about to open a microphone there to pick up the sounds of our neighboring planet. Perseverance aims to finally change this by carrying a pair of microphones that pick up the audio of the landing on the planet, as well as the ambient sound of another world and that of the whirring of ‘Rover at work.
“I hear how you turn the pole, the wheels turn, or you hear how sound instruments can also be an important diagnostic tool,” said Greg Delory, CEO and co-founder of the space hardware company Heliospace . He is a consultant for Perseverance’s SuperCam microphone team.
SuperCam is the rover’s new science instrument that blasts rocks and other laser materials while its microphone records subtle noises made from different types of rocks as they get zapped. The SuperCam mic will be able to capture Martian wind and other sounds from the rover environment.
The other micro on board is part of the entry, landing and landing system that includes full-color cameras to capture the entire exciting ride to the surface.
All together, Perseverance is loaded with 23 cameras, most of them color devices. It will be able to capture HD videos and 3D stereo panoramas and improve on a target the size of a house that flies from more than 100 yards (91 meters) away.
Save it for later
A key part of Perseverance’s mission is to collect rock and gas samples from the Martian surface which will then be secured for possible recovery later in a future mission.
A significant portion of the rover’s belly is taken from instruments for collecting and analyzing Martian geology.
“I can’t wait for these unique specimens to return to Earth and be available for study by scientists around the world,” said planetary scientist Caroline Smith from the UK Museum of Natural History at statement. Smith is working with NASA and the European Space Agency to plan how the samples will be cured upon their delivery to Earth.
The mission of returning the sample is part of one of the biggest goals for Perseverance – to look for evidence of past life on Mars., where the rover will be unloaded, is believed to have once been home to a pool of water as large as Lake Tahoe, making it a prime location for life in the distant past.
A flying sidekick
Perseverance will be based entirely on Mars, but it is carrying something new and exciting: the first helicopter to put out the thin atmosphere of our neighboring planet.
Ingenuity Connected, the tiny chopper is lifted into the Rover’s belly, to be ejected on the surface for some flight tests. This should be very interesting as it has never flown on another planet and the atmosphere of Mars is very different from that of Earth.
In other words, don’t expect too much from this small drone space. But if it works, it can mean big ups (sorry) for how we can explore other worlds in the future.
Preparing for Elon and other human visitors
One of the stated goals of the Perseverance mission is to make major breakthroughs that support the future arrival of current people to become the first (or at least the most recent) Martians.
The rover is equipped with experiments such as Moxie, the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, which will test a way to draw oxygen from the thin air of a literal Martian. It will also use instruments to look at how dust anywhere in the air can impact human life support systems and other key technologies.
Still other experiments will look for surface water, study the Martian atmosphere, climate and weather, and assess their impact on potential human explorers.
Fancy new wheels and a stronger arm
Engineers took some lessons learned from Curiosity and the punishment given to it by strong and pointed Martian rocks and applied them to support the wheels on Perseverance. They are narrow, but have a larger diameter and are made of thicker aluminum. This, and all its new tools, make Perseverance heavier than her older siblings.
The use of all those tools also requires a larger “hand” or turret on the edge of his robotic arm. The arm extends 7 meters (2 meters), and ends in a 99-pound (45-kilogram) rotating turret that has a scientific camera, chemical analyzers and a rock drill. It’s almost the ultimate power glove.
NASA Perseverance Rover ready to explore the wilds of Mars
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Curiosity had a similar setup, but the turret on Perseverance weighs 33 percent more because it has larger instruments and a drill designed to be cut into an intact rock core to collect samples for storage.
All in all, Perseverance is the most advanced robot still visiting Mars, and if all goes well, it could be one of the last to make the trip alone without human companions.