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Perseverance has begun the hardest journey ever to Mars

Perseverance has begun the hardest journey ever to Mars

First year celebrations passed Mars Now behind us and for the latest rover developed by NASA, it’s time to embark on an epic journey, perhaps the most complex that a land rover has ever encountered on the Red Planet. We’ve talked to you a lot in recent months about mission objectives March 2020who brought two centers of technology to the red planet like perseverance And the clevernessand how the second scientific expedition into Jezero crater will be of paramount importance. We also discussed it in various articles last year and now it’s our long awaited time. The long journey towards the ancient and soon-to-be remnants of the ancient river delta has finally come true

We will not focus too much on the importance of the site, a topic that we have dealt with many times, but instead on the amazing journey that is just beginning these days which will lead to perseverance breaking many records.

As has been said extensively in recent months, one of the main goals of the Persevere mission to Mars has to do with space biology and, more specifically, the search for signs of ancient microbial life. Not only does the rover allow us to better understand the planet’s geology and past climate, but it also plays a pivotal role in enabling the future launch of the first mission to collect Martian rock samples, which will later be returned to Earth thanks to the joint. called the ESA-NASA mission Mars sample return. The most interesting samples in space will be flown to our planet, in order to carry out an in-depth analysis using more accurate instruments.

A work, is the work of the group, which has already started in recent months and which is not without problems, (Do you remember the critical issues in the sixth sample?), but in fact she has not yet appeared in life. But NASA has repeated this several times and if there is a place inside Jezero crater to look for ancient remains for signs of biological activity, it is precisely the ancient river delta. The first observations were made by the MRO (Mars Reconaissance Orbiter), then the arrival of the latest NASA spacecraft allowed us to photograph them from a distance in great detail, but it will be on site to persevere to reveal all the secrets of the region.

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The goal is very simple, Reach the river delta in just one month. In terrestrial terms, it can be considered a simple and short trip, we are mainly talking about 5 km, but the question on Mars is more complicated because there is no margin for error.

Everything is well planned and the rover will have to move over rough terrain at speeds much lower than those achieved by Ingenuity. If a Mars helicopter is able to cover 150 meters in a few seconds, then persistence takes about one hour under favorable conditions and at a maximum speed (about 4.2 cm per second).

But this incredible journey, part of which is shown in the video above, has already begun on March 14th, so it is less than a month away from being completed. As can be seen from the map, the route will require an extension of the track with respect to the distance where the crow flies, since the central area cannot be crossed by a land vehicle. We actually see central The secluded Sitah area, which creativity has photographed several timesAnd another rocky area that perseverance cannot tackle.

At this stage of the journey, scientific activities will be reduced to a minimum, while the entire route will be documented by numerous photographs of the delta at different distances during the approach phase. The images will be extremely useful to the team of scientists involved in the analysis of geology, who will be able to study the rocks at an early date and evaluate promising targets even before reaching their vicinity.

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To arrive in perfect condition and in time near the remains of the ancient delta, the chariot of perseverance will rely on Autonavigation systemthe most advanced ever for use on the surface of Mars, with which the rover is equipped.

And progress has been made since the opportunity, just think that with the deceased rover, planning to move a few meters requires several minutes and human intervention, while in most cases everything is now resolved. In a few seconds and without human intervention, in complete (or almost) independence. Indeed, before the actual departure, the team responsible for its own control plans command commands, which, thanks to the deep space network, reach orbit around Mars, which is finally interested in sending to the rover. Depending on the complexity of the terrain, the number of inputs varies greatly, but on the contrary, automatic navigation works excellently when trips are made on especially flat roads. In such cases, there is little or no human intervention.

All this is not just about More advanced software, but also for an updated device Allowing you to ‘think while driving’. Better, faster cameras allow Perseverance to take pictures fast enough to process the track in real time.

Unlike previous vehicles, the Perseverance integrates an additional computer designed solely for image processing, in short capable of providing particularly advanced synthetic vision. With earlier means, such as Curiosity and Opportunity, each process was managed by a single computer and the available resources were thus shared with other activities. Results? Processing speed suffered greatly.

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As explained above, the human role is still important at the planning stage, and indeed is undoubtedly necessary to identify potential rover wheel traps via satellite imagery, such as sandy areas in particular, capable of impeding medium mobility such as tenacity.

Finally, there’s one final improvement over Curiosity’s autonomous navigation system that’s all about it The safety space around the rover, which is less, giving it more agility. To be more clear, if Curiosity has a safety bubble of about 5 meters, with perseverance, the maximum is represented by the space occupied by the six wheels. The system is equipped with greater sensitivity and greater evaluative capacity, thus making choices that would have previously been eliminated for safety reasons. Example? Let us imagine that the rover must pass between two rocks positioned four meters apart: Curiosity will avoid the pass and prefer to go around it, while perseverance will have no problem passing it in case the soil analysis is suitable.

Improving the automatic steering system turned out to be not an option but a necessity, as revealed by NASA, as it was known prior to its arrival at Jezero Crater that its rocky bottom could cause problems when traveling.

So we just have to follow this amazing path, whose arrival point will actually be just the beginning…the beginning of a scientific journey that NASA firmly believes in. About 4.5 billion years ago, water flowed forcefully here and in other regions of Mars, and who knows if the remains of the ancient river delta retain any signs of biological activity. Could the discovery of the century be within reach? So many are hoping for it and we can’t wait to hear about it either. Follow us for more updates.