by, Jo Carol Hebert
While Planet Earth struggles through global health challenges, a robotic rover named ‘Perseverance’ has been hurtling through space towards Planet Mars.
After traveling more than six months and covering almost 300,000 miles at 12,100 miles per hour, ‘Percy’ touched ground at the intended Jezero Crater (thought to be an ancient lake bed).
NASA scientists held their breath for ‘7 minutes of terror’, waiting while space communications from the ‘car-size’ rover reached Earth. Then, 23,000 images of the dusty red planet began pouring into NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in California.
This historical journey and precise landing of the 6-wheeled robotic vehicle was the result of monitored auto-pilot instruments on board. A ‘first time in space’ little 4-pound helicopter rotorcraft named Ingenuity will hover over the area, targeting the best sites for ‘Percy’ to explore. Another ‘first’ for ‘Percy’ was the transition of sound from another planet – the whisper of a Martian breeze.
The mission of Perseverance is to study signs of ancient life which previous missions, including Curiosity and Opportunity have suggested. Other rover-heroes on Mars surface have been ‘Little’ Sojourner and Spirit. ‘Microfossils’ in rock and soil chemistry data will be analyzed by ‘astrobiologists’ to determine geological processes. Data will provide progressive information on the goal of future human habitation on Mars.
Rover Reunion on Mars
Opportunity was programmed for only a few month’s operation, but continued for fourteen years. Curiosity, set for a two-year job, is still going strong on Mars after eight years. Perseverance could very well pass it’s two-year lifespan and live to an old age of fourteen years. Samples collected and stored by rover explorations will be retrieved by later missions.
Back to the Future
People have always been fascinated with dinosaurs of the past and all things ‘Martian’ of the future. The spirit, perseverance, curiosity and ingenuity of the human species has brought us to the threshold of another planet that might sustain life.
Did You Know?
- Over 50 different ‘Earthly’ women have flown in space
- The first woman and the next man will go for the moon in 2024
- Human exploration on Mars is planned for the decade of the 2030s (NASA’s Artemis Mission Program)
With the technological opportunities of the 21st century expanding the frontiers of space, you might want to start saving for ‘that ticket to ride’ to Mars!
Don’t miss the next Smarty Pants Space Update. It’s ‘out-of-this world!
Categories: Smarty Pants Space Watch