NASA will send more helicopters to Mars

The first helicopter that NASA sent to Mars worked so well that it is sending two more.

The helicopters are similar to Ingenuity, the “Marscopter” that accompanied NASA’s Perseverance rover to Mars. But you’ll have the added ability to grab and move small tubes filled with chunks of Martian rock. (Think of them as extraterrestrial drones, similar in concept to those Amazon developed for package delivery.)

This is part of a major realignment of NASA’s next great mission to Mars, a collaboration with the European Space Agency to return Martian rocks to Earth for closer examination by scientists using state-of-the-art laboratory equipment that cannot fit into a spacecraft. .

“We have a path forward with a revised and innovative architecture,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Directorate, said during a press conference Wednesday that provided an update to the mission, known as the Mars Sample Return.

The Perseverance Wagon is digging up rock samples as it explores a hole called Jezero. Its focus is on a dry river delta along the crater rim, a key site where signs of ancient life could be preserved if any creatures lived there.

The original plan was to send a rover built by the European Space Agency to pick up samples and return them to the probe, where they would be loaded onto a rocket and launched into Mars orbit. Another spacecraft will grab the container and carry the rocks back to Earth. But the rover’s design got bigger and, along with that missile, it became too heavy to fit in a single landing craft. Earlier this year, NASA announced that it would use a landing probe – one for the craft and one for the return rocket.

Mission redesign eliminates the fetch cart. Instead, the plan is for you to drive Perseverance to the lander, where 30 rock samples will be loaded onto the return rocket. As Curiosity, a rover with a design nearly identical to that of Perseverance, continues to operate on Mars a decade after its arrival, NASA administrators are confident that Perseverance will still be in business when the lander arrives on Mars in 2030.

Helicopters will be a backup option if something goes wrong with persistence. The return lander will rest near where Perseverance dropped the rock samples to the ground, sealed inside cigar-sized tubes. The helicopters then return the samples to the probe.

The journey back to Earth will take a few more years, as you will land in a small capsule in 2033.

NASA officials were surprised by the continued accomplishments of ingenuity, which were transported to Mars on the downside of perseverance. Originally, the helicopter would have flown multiple times during a one-month technical presentation shortly after the mission landed on Mars in February 2021, then persistence will leave creativity behind and continue its main science mission. Creativity has now flown 29 times.

But the Ingenuity flights – a difficult technical challenge in the weak Martian air – were so successful that NASA decided that the helicopter should continue to persevere, serving as an aerial reconnaissance of the landscape of the future.

“We made our decision based on new studies and recent achievements on Mars that allowed us to consider options that, frankly, were not available to us a year ago or before,” said Dr. Zurbuchen.

The helicopters for the sample return mission will be about the same size, but with the addition of small wheels at the bottom of the landing legs. This will allow each helicopter to drive a short distance to stretch on a sample tube; Next, a small robotic arm picks up the tube.

With the rover rover scrapped, the Mars sample return mission requires only one lander, not two. This simplifies mission design — each Mars landing increases risk — and helps keep costs low.

The total cost of the mission would be billions of dollars, but NASA hasn’t predicted how much. “All I can say now is clear,” said Jeff Gramling, director of NASA’s Mars Sample Return Program. “One lander is certainly much less expensive than two.”

#NASA #send #helicopters #Mars

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.