Remember When Life was Found in a Martian Meteorite? Turns out, it was Just Geology

The Alan Hills meteorite is a part of history to Mars aficionados. It came from Mars and meteorite hunters discovered in Antarctica in 1984. Scientists think it’s one of the oldest chunks of rock to come from Mars and make it to Earth.

The meteorite made headlines in 1996 when a team of researchers said they found evidence of life in it.

Did they?

Continue reading “Remember When Life was Found in a Martian Meteorite? Turns out, it was Just Geology”

With 17 Flights Completed, Ingenuity has Spent 30 Minutes Aloft on Mars

December 17 is an historic day for flying machines, so it wouldn’t be surprising if we hear the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter makes an attempt at its 18th flight sometime today. In case you need a little reminder, on this day in 1903, the Wright Brothers had their first successful flight, flying their plane for exactly 120 feet over 12 seconds.

Ingenuity’s most recent flight came on December 5, 2021, its 17th.  The fact that Ingenuity has this many flights under its wings, er… rotors…. is nothing short of amazing. The tiny helicopter was only designed for five flights on the Red Planet but now, with 17 successful liftoffs and landings, it has accumulated over 30 minutes of flying time on Mars.

Continue reading “With 17 Flights Completed, Ingenuity has Spent 30 Minutes Aloft on Mars”

You can Watch Ingenuity’s Flight on Mars, Captured by Perseverance

New video beamed back to Earth from the Perseverance Rover shows an incredibly detailed view of the Ingenuity helicopter’s flight back in September. The video – taken from about 300 meters (328 yards) away — shows Ingenuity’s takeoff and landing with such detail, that even a little plume of dust is visible during the helicopter’s ascent.

Continue reading “You can Watch Ingenuity’s Flight on Mars, Captured by Perseverance”

The Sounds of Mars: Hear the Wind and Crunch of Rover Wheels on the Red Planet

Two microphones aboard the Perseverance Rover have recorded “alien” sounds on Mars – the sounds of a human-made spacecraft crunching its wheels on the Red Planet’s surface, or its motors whirring, or blasts from its scientific laser instrument. Perseverance’s microphones have also captured the sounds of another spacecraft – the Ingenuity helicopter – taking flight. During the five or so hours recorded so far, you can hear the Martian wind gusting in the background.  

“We’ve been able to see Mars from the rovers’ point of view for a quite a long time now,” said Greg Delory, a consultant to the Mars 2020 rover microphone team, “so to have another ‘sense’ on Mars is pretty incredible.”

Continue reading “The Sounds of Mars: Hear the Wind and Crunch of Rover Wheels on the Red Planet”

Ingenuity Back in Action on Mars on its 14th Flight

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter took a short hop flight on October 24, giving the mission team both a sigh of relief and an anticipatory look to future flights. This 14th flight of Ingenuity’s mission was a short 23-second hover, with a peak altitude of 16 feet (5 meters) above ground level, with a small sideways translation of 7 feet (2 meters) to avoid a nearby sand ripple.

Continue reading “Ingenuity Back in Action on Mars on its 14th Flight”

Perseverance has Collected its First Sample of Mars and Prepared it for Return to Earth… Eventually

It’s another first for NASA.

In early September, the Perseverance rover successfully used its robotic arm and drill to drill into a rock and extract a sample. It extracted a rock core about 6 cm (2 in) long and placed it inside a sealed tube. This is the first time a robotic spacecraft has collected a sample from another planet destined for a return to Earth on a separate spacecraft.

Now we wait for the eventual return of the sample to Earth.

Continue reading “Perseverance has Collected its First Sample of Mars and Prepared it for Return to Earth… Eventually”

Here’s Perseverance, Seen From Space

The Mars Perseverance rover is on the move! The HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted the rover from above, the first view since shortly after the rover landed in February 2021. Perseverance appears as the white speck in the center of the image above, in the the “South Séítah” area of Mars’ Jezero Crater.

The HiRISE team said the rover is about 700 meters (2,300 feet) from its original landing site.

Continue reading “Here’s Perseverance, Seen From Space”

Perseverance has Already Detected Over 300 Dust Devils and Vortices on Mars

Dust devils are generally used as a trope in media when the writers want to know that an area is deserted. They signify the desolation and isolation that those places represent. Almost none of the settings of those stories are close to the isolation of Perseverance, the Mars rover that landed on the planet earlier this year.  Fittingly, the number of dust devils Perseverance has detected is also extremely high – over 300 in its first three months on the planet. 

Continue reading “Perseverance has Already Detected Over 300 Dust Devils and Vortices on Mars”

Thanks to Ingenuity’s Pictures, Perseverance Knows Where to Drive to Next

The Perseverance rover now has a new tool to help scientists and engineers figure out where the rover goes next. The new tool is the little rotorcraft that was tucked away in the rover’s belly, the Ingenuity helicopter. Ingenuity has now started doing aerial surveys to scout ahead for Perseverance.

Continue reading “Thanks to Ingenuity’s Pictures, Perseverance Knows Where to Drive to Next”

After Its Last Rock Sample Crumbled Into Powder, Perseverance is Going to try Again

In the last two decades, we have all grown accustomed to rovers exploring Mars. At least one rover has been active on the planet every day since January 4, 2004, when NASA’s Spirit rover landed in Gusev crater. Opportunity (2004) and Curiosity (2012) followed, each making unique journeys of discovery of their own. Perseverance (2021) is the latest and greatest of these robotic explorers, boasting a state-of-the-art in-situ resource utilization experiment to extract oxygen from the atmosphere, an accompanying helicopter to scout the path ahead, and a suite of unparalleled geology instruments. But what really sets Perseverance’s mission apart is that, for the first time, it is collecting samples of Martian rock to bring back to Earth.

Continue reading “After Its Last Rock Sample Crumbled Into Powder, Perseverance is Going to try Again”