NASA’s Perseverance rover just had a rare misstep. The space agency has revealed that the robotic vehicle failed to collect Mars rock samples during its first attempt. While the percussive drill, coring bit and sample tube processing worked “as intended,” a probe indicated that the tube was empty — not exactly what scientists were expecting when everything else checked out.
Scientists are still investigating what happened and may not have an answer for a few days. Perseverance project manager Jennifer Trosper said the team suspected the rock might have reacted in an unexpected way during the coring process. The equipment is likely fine, in other words.
The Martian surface has created problems more than once. The Phoenix Lander had trouble gathering “sticky” soil in 2008, for instance, while Curiosity and InSight have also had trouble cracking into rocks and the surface itself.
This initial setback won’t necessarily jeopardize Perseverance’s mission. However, NASA will want to keep incidents like this to a minimum. The rover was sent to Mars in no small part to collect samples that would eventually return to Earth and help scientists look for signs of past life. The fewer samples NASA gets, the fewer chances it will have to explore Mars’ history.
Recent hubbub about subsurface lakes detected on Mars has a new twist, as new research argues that the underground structures aren’t lakes at all. The researchers behind the study say that, rather than liquid water, the Martian south pole contains smectites, a class of clays that have been misinterpreted in the data.
NASA has announced that Ingenuity, its small Martian helicopter, successfully passed its ninth and most challenging flight thus far, marking a new milestone for the surprisingly capable vehicle. Unlike past flights, NASA used the most recent flight to pit Ingenuity against “challenging terrain,” not to mention the ample distance traveled. It’s important to remember that Ingenuity was designed merely as … Continue reading
Enlarge/ Photo taken on Dec. 4, 2020, shows the model of China’s first Mars probe Tianwen-1 lander and Zhurong rover at the Zhejiang International Intelligent Transportation Industry Expo 2020. (credit: Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
As early as Friday evening in the United States, China will attempt to set its Tianwen-1 lander down on the surface of Mars. After weeks of speculation, the China National Space Administration confirmed that the country will seek to land the mission, including its “Zhurong” rover, sometime between 23:00 UTC on Friday, May 14 and May 19.
Named after an ancient fire god in Chinese mythology, the Zhurong rover has a mass of about 240 kg. This means the Chinese rover is comparable in size to the Spirit and Opportunity rovers that NASA landed on Mars in January 2004.
There is a lot of intrigue surrounding the high-risk mission. Before this mission, China had never sent a spacecraft to Mars. In this single spacecraft, the country packed both an orbiter and a modest-sized lander with a rover. Moreover, no country other than the United States has successfully soft-landed a spacecraft on Mars or deployed a rover. Other countries have tried and failed multiple times.
We’re used to seeing stark images of rovers all alone on the Red Planet, but Perseverance brought a friend. NASA has just released a stunning photo showing two vehicles—the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter—in a single shot.
The above extraterrestrial skull was spotted in the high-resolution 360-degree panorama image captured this week by NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. Cosmic Log presents a fun gallery of anomalies and curiosities folks have found in Perseverance’s postcards from the Red Planet. — Read the rest
The Red Planet’s two tiny moons—Phobos and Deimos—could have formed after an ancient collision, according to new research. It’s an intriguing possibility, but not everyone is convinced by the evidence.
Spotify is splitting its ambitions between podcasts and music. For the latter, it’s teasing a high-fidelity service that will arrive later this year, an idea the company has been testing since 2017. Spotify’s current maximum audio bitrate is 320k…
NASA will reveal video of the Perseverance rover’s incredible landing on Mars today, a glimpse of the complex multi-stage process that successfully culminated in the car-sized robot touching down on the red planet late last week. It proved to be a nail-biting seven minutes or so, involving not only some serious heat-shielding but a parachute, sixteen rockets, and a Sky … Continue reading
In the spirit of the recent Mars landing, check out this theatrical trailer for the movie “Flight to Mars”, made in 1951. The first graphic pops up saying “Fifty years into the future!” which would put them at 2001. — Read the rest