There’s a problem with the Perseverance rover. One of its instruments, the laser-shooting SHERLOC, which is mounted on the end of the robotic arm, has a dust cover that is supposed to protect the instrument when it’s not in use. Unfortunately, the cover has been stuck open, and that can allow dust to collect on the sensitive optics. The cover is partially open, so the rover can’t use its laser on rock targets or collect mineral spectroscopy data. NASA engineers are investigating the problem and are hoping to devise a solution.Continue reading “NASA is Trying to Fix a Problem With one of Perseverance's Instruments”
The search for life on alien worlds has captivated us for hundreds of years. In some respect, the search for life has expanded to the search for water since it is not unreasonable to assume if there is water then there is a good chance there is life too. When NASA selected the landing site for Perseverance, they were looking for such a body of water and settled upon the Jezero Crater. Images from orbiters reveal a crater that looks like it has been filled with water in the past but further investigations were needed to confirm. Now it seems, Perseverance has risen to the challenge.Continue reading “Perseverance is Definitely Inside an Ancient Lake on Mars”
Imagine remotely flying a drone or small aircraft from a great distance and loosing contact with it during flight. You’d likely assume the worst, that your aircraft was probably laying in a crashed heap in some remote location.
That’s what engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory went through with the beloved Ingenuity helicopter on Mars, millions of miles away. During a recent quick pop-up flight that was supposed to last just 32 seconds, Ingenuity lost communications before it touched back down. The engineers back on Earth had no idea if the little helicopter landed safely or not.Continue reading “NASA Lost Contact With its Ingenuity Helicopter Briefly, but it's Back”
When NASA decided to send the little Ingenuity rotorcraft to Mars on the belly of the Perseverance rover, they weren’t certain of success. Nothing like it had ever been attempted in Mars’ extremely thin atmosphere. Mission planners hoped and planned for a total of five flights, enough for a technology demonstration.
But now, as almost everyone knows, Ingenuity has wildly exceeded NASA’s initial expectations.Continue reading “Ingenuity’s 69th Flight is its Farthest So Far”
More information is always better when it comes to publicly funded space exploration projects. So it’s welcome when a NASA engineer takes time out of the assuredly busy work lives to provide an update on everyone’s favorite helicopter on Mars. Ingenuity has been having a rough few months, and a new article entitled “The Long Wait,” posted by Travis Brown, Chief Engineer on the Ingenuity project, on NASA’s website, provides a good amount of detail as to why.Continue reading “How NASA Keeps Ingenuity Going After More than 50 Flights”
NASA’s Perseverance Rover has been exploring Mars for more than 900 sols. It’s the most scientifically advanced rover ever built and has opened our eyes wider to Mars and the possibility that it hosted life. The rover’s crowning achievement is preparing samples for eventual return to Earth, an important next step in understanding Mars.
But it can’t do any of its work without moving effectively and efficiently on the Martian surface. And in this regard, Perseverance and its autopilot are setting some serious records.Continue reading “NASA’s Perseverance Rover is Setting Records on Mars”
The Ingenuity helicopter continues to explore the landscape around Jezero Crater on Mars, now more than 800 days into its original 30-day demonstration mission. Recently, Ingenuity completed its 54th flight on the Red Planet. However, things haven’t gone exactly to plan the past several weeks.
On its 53rd fight on July 22, 2023, the helicopter cut the flight short after one of its warnings was triggered, implementing the “LAND_NOW” protocol. Ingenuity should have flown for 136 seconds but was only in the air for 74 seconds before performing an emergency landing.Continue reading “NASA's Mars Helicopter Had an Unscheduled Landing, But Flew Again”
Since the Viking 1 and 2 missions visited Mars in 1976, scientists have been confronted with mounting evidence that Mars once had flowing water on its surface. The images collected by the twin Viking landers and orbiters showed clear signs of ancient flow channels, alluvial deposits, and weathered rocks. Thanks to the dozens of additional orbiters, landers, and rovers sent that have been sent there since scientists have been getting a clearer picture of what Mars once looked like. At the end of this journey, they hope to find evidence (if there’s any to be found) that Mars once supported life and still does today.
The latest evidence of Mars’ warmer watery past comes to us courtesy of NASA’s Perseverance rover, which continues to explore the Jezero Crater and obtain samples for the first Mars sample-return mission. On Friday, June 23rd, the rover obtained its 20th sample, which was drilled from a rocky outcropping known as “Emerald Lake.” Named “Otis Peak,” this sample is part of an outcropping formed by mineral deposits transported by an ancient river and could contain invaluable geological information about the many places these minerals came from.Continue reading “This Mess of Boulders Was Deposited by an Ancient River on Mars”
The search for life on Mars has been a long a confusing one. Inconclusive experiments abound, but one thing is certain – there is definitely organic material on the Red Planet. Now, a new study in Nature has confirmed that finding and showed just how complex that organic material actually is.Continue reading “Perseverance Finds a Wealth of Organic Materials on Mars”
One of the most exciting success stories we’ve been able to report on repeatedly here at UT is that of the Ingenuity helicopter. Not only has it racked up several firsts for humanity, most notably the first powered flight of a craft on another planet, but it has provided both a new perspective and new scientific data to its operations team. It’s also consistently stayed ahead of its companion on the Red Planet – Perseverance, the rover it originally launched from. Sometimes, that causes a scary waiting period for the helicopter’s operations team.Continue reading “After 63 Days of Silence, NASA Has Restored Communications with the Mars Helicopter”