Showing posts with label Mars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mars. Show all posts

NASA 4-Wheel DuAxel Rover To Explore Moon, Mars, And Asteroids.


The adaptability of a flexible rover that can travel long distances and rappel down hard-to-reach regions of scientific interest was shown in a field test in California's Mojave Desert. 

DuAxel is a pair of Axel robots intended to investigate crater walls, pits, scarps, vents, and other severe environments on the moon, Mars, and beyond. 

  • The robot's capacity to split in half and dispatch one of its parts - a two-wheeled Axle robot - down an otherwise impassable hill is shown in this technological demonstration produced at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. 
  • The rappelling Axel may then seek out regions to research on its own, securely navigate slopes and rough barriers, and return to dock with its other half before traveling to a new location. 
  • Although the rover does not yet have a mission, essential technologies are being developed that might one day assist mankind in exploring the solar system's stony planets and moons.

DuAxel is a development of the Axel system, a flexible series of single-axle rovers meant to traverse high-risk terrain on planetary surfaces, such as steep slopes, boulder fields, and caverns — locations that existing rovers, such as Mars Curiosity, would find difficult or impossible to approach. 

DuAxel's Advantages:

To cover greater distances, two connected Axel Rovers are used: 

  • DuAxel travels large distances by connecting two Axel rovers. 
  • They divide in two when they approach a steep slope or cliff so that one tied Axel may rappel down the steep danger to reach otherwise inaccessible area while the other works as an anchor at the top of the slope. 

Tether that can be retracted: 

  • The Axel rover can lower itself down practically any sort of terrain by reeling and unreeling its built-in rope. 

Greater Maneuverability: 

  • The two-wheeled axle simply spins one of its wheels quicker than the other to turn. 
  • The core cylinder between the wheels houses the sensors, actuators, electronics, power, and payload.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

Find Jai on Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

You may also want to read more about Space Exploration and Space Systems here.

References & Further Reading:

JPL Robotics: The Axel Rover System

Educational Resources:

Student Project: Design a Robotic Insect.

Educator Guide: Design a Robotic Insect.

Artificial Intelligence - Who Is Elon Musk?


Elon Musk (1971–) is an American businessman and inventor.

Elon Musk is an engineer, entrepreneur, and inventor who was born in South Africa.

He is a dual citizen of South Africa, Canada, and the United States, and resides in California.

Musk is widely regarded as one of the most prominent inventors and engineers of the twenty-first century, as well as an important influencer and contributor to the development of artificial intelligence.

Despite his controversial personality, Musk is widely regarded as one of the most prominent inventors and engineers of the twenty-first century and an important influencer and contributor to the development of artificial intelligence.

Musk's business instincts and remarkable technological talent were evident from an early age.

By the age of 10, he had self-taught himself how program computers, and by the age of twelve, he had produced a video game and sold the source code to a computer magazine.

Musk has included allusions to some of his favorite novels in SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket launch and Tesla's software since he was a youngster.

Musk's official schooling was centered on economics and physics rather than engineering, interests that are mirrored in his subsequent work, such as his efforts in renewable energy and space exploration.

He began his education at Queen's University in Canada, but later transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned bachelor's degrees in Economics and Physics.

Musk barely stayed at Stanford University for two days to seek a PhD in energy physics before departing to start his first firm, Zip2, with his brother Kimbal Musk.

Musk has started or cofounded many firms, including three different billion-dollar enterprises: SpaceX, Tesla, and PayPal, all driven by his diverse interests and goals.

• Zip2 was a web software business that was eventually purchased by Compaq.

• an online bank that merged with PayPal to become the online payments corporation PayPal.

• Tesla, Inc.: an electric car and solar panel maker 

• SpaceX: a commercial aircraft manufacturer and space transportation services provider (via its subsidiarity SolarCity) 

• Neuralink: a neurotechnology startup focusing on brain-computer connections 

• The Boring Business: an infrastructure and tunnel construction corporation

 • OpenAI: a nonprofit AI research company focused on the promotion and development of friendly AI Musk is a supporter of environmentally friendly energy and consumption.

Concerns over the planet's future habitability prompted him to investigate the potential of establishing a self-sustaining human colony on Mars.

Other projects include the Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system, and the Musk electric jet, a jet-powered supersonic electric aircraft.

Musk sat on President Donald Trump's Strategy and Policy Forum and Manufacturing Jobs Initiative for a short time before stepping out when the US withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Musk launched the Musk Foundation in 2002, which funds and supports research and activism in the domains of renewable energy, human space exploration, pediatric research, and science and engineering education.

Musk's effect on AI is significant, despite his best-known work with Tesla and SpaceX, as well as his contentious social media pronouncements.

In 2015, Musk cofounded the charity OpenAI with the objective of creating and supporting "friendly AI," or AI that is created, deployed, and utilized in a manner that benefits mankind as a whole.

OpenAI's objective is to make AI open and accessible to the general public, reducing the risks of AI being controlled by a few privileged people.

OpenAI is especially concerned about the possibility of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), which is broadly defined as AI capable of human-level (or greater) performance on any intellectual task, and ensuring that any such AGI is developed responsibly, transparently, and distributed evenly and openly.

OpenAI has had its own successes in taking AI to new levels while staying true to its goals of keeping AI friendly and open.

In June of 2018, a team of OpenAI-built robots defeated a human team in the video game Dota 2, a feat that could only be accomplished through robot teamwork and collaboration.

Bill Gates, a cofounder of Microsoft, praised the achievement on Twitter, calling it "a huge milestone in advancing artificial intelligence" (@BillGates, June 26, 2018).

Musk resigned away from the OpenAI board in February 2018 to prevent any conflicts of interest while Tesla advanced its AI work for autonomous driving.

Musk became the CEO of Tesla in 2008 after cofounding the company in 2003 as an investor.

Musk was the chairman of Tesla's board of directors until 2018, when he stepped down as part of a deal with the US Securities and Exchange Commission over Musk's false claims about taking the company private.

Tesla produces electric automobiles with self-driving capabilities.

Tesla Grohmann Automation and Solar City, two of its subsidiaries, offer relevant automotive technology and manufacturing services and solar energy services, respectively.

Tesla, according to Musk, will reach Level 5 autonomous driving capabilities in 2019, as defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) five levels of autonomous driving.

Tes la's aggressive development with autonomous driving has influenced conventional car makers' attitudes toward electric cars and autonomous driving, and prompted a congressional assessment of how and when the technology should be regulated.

Musk is widely credited as a key influencer in moving the automotive industry toward autonomous driving, highlighting the benefits of autonomous vehicles (including reduced fatalities in vehicle crashes, increased worker productivity, increased transportation efficiency, and job creation) and demonstrating that the technology is achievable in the near term.

Tesla's autonomous driving code has been created and enhanced under the guidance of Musk and Tesla's Director of AI, Andrej Karpathy (Autopilot).

The computer vision analysis used by Tesla, which includes an array of cameras on each car and real-time image processing, enables the system to make real-time observations and predictions.

The cameras, as well as other exterior and internal sensors, capture a large quantity of data, which is evaluated and utilized to improve Autopilot programming.

Tesla is the only autonomous car maker that is opposed to the LIDAR laser sensor (an acronym for light detection and ranging).

Tesla uses cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors instead.

Though academics and manufacturers disagree on whether LIDAR is required for fully autonomous driving, the high cost of LIDAR has limited Tesla's rivals' ability to produce and sell vehicles at a pricing range that allows a large number of cars on the road to gather data.

Tesla is creating its own AI hardware in addition to its AI programming.

Musk stated in late 2017 that Tesla is building its own silicon for artificial-intelligence calculations, allowing the company to construct its own AI processors rather than depending on third-party sources like Nvidia.

Tesla's AI progress in autonomous driving has been marred by setbacks.

Tesla has consistently missed self-imposed deadlines, and serious accidents have been blamed on flaws in the vehicle's Autopilot mode, including a non-injury accident in 2018, in which the vehicle failed to detect a parked firetruck on a California freeway, and a fatal accident in 2018, in which the vehicle failed to detect a pedestrian outside a crosswalk.

Neuralink was established by Musk in 2016.

With the stated objective of helping humans to keep up with AI breakthroughs, Neuralink is focused on creating devices that can be implanted into the human brain to better facilitate communication between the brain and software.

Musk has characterized the gadgets as a more efficient interface with computer equipment, while people now operate things with their fingertips and voice commands, directives would instead come straight from the brain.

Though Musk has made major advances to AI, his pronouncements regarding the risks linked with AI have been apocalyptic.

Musk has called AI "humanity's greatest existential danger" and "the greatest peril we face as a civilisation" (McFarland 2014).

(Morris 2017).

He cautions against the perils of power concentration, a lack of independent control, and a competitive rush to acceptance without appropriate analysis of the repercussions.

While Musk has used colorful terminology such as "summoning the devil" (McFarland 2014) and depictions of cyborg overlords, he has also warned of more immediate and realistic concerns such as job losses and AI-driven misinformation campaigns.

Though Musk's statements might come out as alarmist, many important and well-respected figures, including as Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, Swedish-American scientist Max Tegmark, and the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, share his concern.

Furthermore, Musk does not call for the cessation of AI research.

Instead, Musk supports for responsible AI development and regulation, including the formation of a Congressional committee to spend years studying AI with the goal of better understanding the technology and its hazards before establishing suitable legal limits.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

Find Jai on Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

You may also want to read more about Artificial Intelligence here.

See also: 

Bostrom, Nick; Superintelligence.

References & Further Reading:

Gates, Bill. (@BillGates). 2018. Twitter, June 26, 2018.

Marr, Bernard. 2018. “The Amazing Ways Tesla Is Using Artificial Intelligence and Big Data.” Forbes, January 8, 2018.

McFarland, Matt. 2014. “Elon Musk: With Artificial Intelligence, We Are Summoning the Demon.” Washington Post, October 24, 2014.

Morris, David Z. 2017. “Elon Musk Says Artificial Intelligence Is the ‘Greatest Risk We Face as a Civilization.’” Fortune, July 15, 2017.

Piper, Kelsey. 2018. “Why Elon Musk Fears Artificial Intelligence.” Vox Media, Novem￾ber 2, 2018.

Strauss, Neil. 2017. “Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow.” Rolling Stone, November 15, 2017.

Perseverance Collects Its First Martian Rock Sample

The rock core has been sealed in an airtight titanium sample container and will be accessible in the future. 

The first piece of Martian rock, a core from Jezero Crater little thicker than a pencil, was collected today by NASA's Perseverance rover. 

The historic milestone was verified by data obtained by mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. 

The core has been sealed in an airtight titanium sample container and will be retrievable in the future. 

NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) are preparing a series of future flights to return the rover's sample tubes back Earth for further analysis as part of the Mars Sample Return program. 

These samples would be the first time materials from another planet have been scientifically identified , chosen and returned to our world. 

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated, "NASA has a history of establishing high objectives and then achieving them, demonstrating our nation's dedication to exploration and innovation." 

“This is a huge accomplishment, and I can't wait to see what Perseverance and our team come up with next.” 

Perseverance's mission includes studying the Jezero region to understand the geology and ancient habitability of the area, as well as characterizing the past climate, in addition to identifying and collecting samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) while searching for signs of ancient microscopic life. 

“This is really a momentous moment for all of NASA research,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, assistant administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. 

“We will be doing the same with the samples Perseverance gathers as part of our Mars Sample Return program, much as the Apollo Moon missions showed the lasting scientific significance of returning samples from other planets for examination here on our planet. 

We anticipate jaw-dropping findings across a wide range of scientific disciplines, including investigation into the issue of whether life ever existed on Mars, using the most advanced science equipment on Earth.”

Perseverance Rover Sample Tubes from NASA. 

The rover's sample tubes, marvels of engineering, must be robust enough to securely transport Red Planet materials back to Earth in perfect shape. 

The tubes in NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover's belly are set to transport the first samples from another planet back to Earth in history. 

Future researchers will utilize these carefully chosen samples of Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) to seek for evidence of possible microbial life on Mars in the past, as well as to address other important questions regarding the planet's history. 

On February 18, 2021, Perseverance will touch down at Mars' Jezero Crater. 

The 43 sample tubes heading to Mars, which are about the size and form of a typical lab test tube, must be lightweight and durable enough to withstand the rigors of the round journey, as well as clean enough that future scientists can be sure that what they're studying is 100 percent Mars. 

"When compared to Mars, Earth is brimming with signs of life," Ken Farley, a Mars 2020 project scientist at Caltech in Pasadena, said. 

"We wanted to get rid of those indications completely so that any residual evidence could be reliably identified and distinguished when the first samples were returned."

Engineered containers have been used to transport samples from other planets since Apollo 11. 

In 1969, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin brought back 47.7 pounds (21.8 kilograms) of samples from the Moon's Sea of Tranquility in two triple-sealed briefcase-size metal cases. 

The rock boxes on Apollo, on the other hand, only had to maintain their contents immaculate for approximately 10 days – from the lunar surface until splashdown – before being taken away to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. 

The scientific value of Perseverance's sample tubes must be isolated and preserved for more than ten years. 

Sample Return from Mars

Mission scientists will decide when and where NASA's newest rover will dig for samples as it explores Jezero Crater. 

The Sample Caching System, the most complex and most sophisticated device ever launched into space, will be used to package this valuable Martian cargo. 

After the samples have been placed on the Martian surface, NASA will complete the relay by launching two more missions in collaboration with ESA (the European Space Agency). 

The sample return campaign's second mission will dispatch a "fetch" rover to collect the hermetically sealed tubes and transfer them to a dedicated sample return container within the Mars Ascent Vehicle. 

If the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover stays healthy for the duration of the mission, it may transport tubes containing samples to the area of the Mars Ascent Vehicle. 

The tubes will subsequently be sent into orbit by the Mars Ascent Vehicle. 

The last mission will send an orbiter to Mars to meet the enclosed samples, collect them in a highly secure containment capsule, and return them to Earth (as early as 2031). 

Sturdy Containers

Each sample tube is made mostly of titanium and weighs less than 2 ounces (57 grams). 

After Perseverance places the tubes on Mars' surface, a white outer covering protects them from being heated by the Sun, which may change the chemical makeup of the samples. 

The crew will be able to identify the tubes and their contents thanks to laser-etched serial numbers on the outside. 

Each tube must fit within Perseverance's Sample Caching System's stringent constraints, as well as those of future missions. 

"We discovered almost 60 distinct measurements to examine despite the fact that they are less than 6 inches [15.2 cm] long," stated JPL Sample Tube Cognizant Engineer Pavlina Karafillis. 

"Because of the complexities of all the intricate processes they would travel through throughout the Mars Sample Return mission, the tube was considered unsuitable for flight if any measurement was off by approximately the thickness of a human hair." #Jezero is 100 percent pure.# Precision engineering is just one aspect of the task at hand. 

The tubes are also the result of stringent cleaning requirements. 

All of NASA's planetary missions use stringent procedures to avoid the entry of organic, inorganic, or biological material from Earth. 

However, since these tubes may contain evidence that life previously existed elsewhere in the cosmos, the Mars 2020 team needed to further minimize the chance that they could house Earthly artifacts that would obstruct the scientific process. 

Nothing should be in a tube until the Sample Caching System starts filling it with 9 cubic inches (147 cubic centimeters) of Jezero Crater, according to the directive (about the size of a piece of chalk). 

"And they meant it when they said 'nothing,'" Ian Clark, the mission's assistant project systems engineer for sample tube cleaning at JPL, said. 

"For example, we wanted to keep the total quantity of Earth-based organic molecules in a particular sample to fewer than 150 nanograms to accomplish the type of research the project is pursuing. 

We were restricted to fewer than 15 nanograms in a sample for a group of certain chemical components - ones that are highly suggestive of life." A billionth of a gram is referred to as a nanogram. 

A typical thumbprint contains approximately 45,000 nanograms of organics, which is about 300 times the maximum permitted in a sample tube. 

The crew had to rewrite the book on cleaning in order to satisfy the mission's strict requirements. 

"All of our assembly was done in a hyper-clean-room environment, which is really a clean room within a clean room," Clark said. 

"The sample tubes would be cleaned with filtered air blasts, washed with deionized water, and acoustically cleaned with acetone, isopropyl alcohol, and other exotic cleaning chemicals in the interim between assembly processes." The crew would test impurities and bake the tubes after each cleaning for good measure. 

Each of the 43 sample tubes chosen for flight from a field of 93 had produced almost 250 pages of paperwork and 3 terabytes of pictures and movies by the time they were chosen. 

Up to 38 of the tubes onboard Perseverance will be filled with Martian rock and regolith. 

The other five are "witness tubes," which have been filled with molecular and particle contaminants-capturing materials. 

They'll be opened one at a time on Mars, mainly at sample collection sites, to observe the ambient environment and record any Earthly impurities or pollutants from the spacecraft that may be present during sample collection. 

The return and analysis of the sample and witness tubes on Earth will enable the entire range of terrestrial scientific laboratory capabilities to examine the samples, utilizing equipment that are too big and complicated to transport to Mars. 

More Information about the Mission

Astrobiology, particularly the hunt for evidence of ancient microbial life, is a major goal of Perseverance's mission on Mars. 

The rover will study the planet's geology and climatic history, lay the path for human exploration of Mars, and be the first mission to gather and store Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust). 

Following missions, which NASA is considering in collaboration with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to retrieve these stored samples from the surface and return them to Earth for further study. 

The Mars 2020 mission is part of a broader program that includes lunar missions in order to prepare for human exploration of Mars. 

NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans are tasked with sending humans to the Moon by 2024 and establishing a long-term human presence on and around the Moon by 2028. 

The Perseverance rover was constructed and is operated by JPL, which is administered for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration strategy, which includes Artemis lunar missions to assist prepare for human exploration of Mars. 

The Perseverance rover was constructed and is operated by JPL, which is administered for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California. 

For additional information about Perseverance, go to:


~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Space Missions and Systems here.

How Many Samples Will NASA' s Perseverance Rover Collect On Mars?

On August 6, NASA's Perseverance rover tried to drill into the Martian surface for the first time after six months of traveling on Mars. 

Everything seemed to proceed according to plan, but when the rover's operators examined the sample tube after it had been sealed and stowed within the rover, they discovered it to be empty. 

  • Jennifer Trosper, the Perseverance project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said, "It went pretty well, other than the rock reacted in a manner that didn't enable us to collect any material in the tube." 
  • The mission's operators believe that when the rover bore into the rock to collect a sample, it disintegrated into a fine powder and spilled out of the tube, based on the data. 

Trosper adds, "We need a more cooperative kind of rock." 

  • “This one was crumbly — it may have had a firm surface on the outside, but as we went inside, all the grains simply fell apart.” 
  • This didn't happen during Earth-based testing of the sample equipment, and it hasn't happened with any of the previous Mars rovers. 
  • While the sampling tube cannot be unsealed and reused, researchers had requested a sample of Martian air, which is included in the sealed tube. 
  • Trosper explains, "We weren't aiming to capture the air sample, but it's not a waste of a tube." 

There are 43 sample tubes on Perseverance, so there are still lots of chances to gather Martian rocks. 

  • When it comes to future sample efforts with Perseverance, Trosper believes this failed endeavor isn't a reason for worry. 
  • The crew intends to utilize the scientific equipment aboard the rover to check that a sample was obtained before sealing the tube and stashing it within the rover for the next attempt, which is scheduled for early September.

During its two-year journey, the rover will gather approximately 40 samples. 

  • Perseverance will eventually store these samples on Mars' surface, where they will be picked up and returned to Earth by a later NASA mission. 
  • Returning the samples to Earth will enable scientists to examine them in much more depth than we can on Mars, particularly when looking for indications of previous life.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration strategy, which includes Artemis lunar missions to assist prepare for human exploration of Mars. 

The Perseverance rover was constructed and is operated by JPL, which is administered for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California. 

For additional information about Perseverance, go to:


~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Space Missions and Systems here.

How Can Atomic Clocks Help Humans Arrive On Mars On Time?

    Autonomous Navigation - Overcoming Technological Limitations

    NASA navigators are assisting in the development of a future in which spacecraft may safely and independently travel to destinations such as the Moon and Mars.

    • Today, navigators guide a spacecraft by calculating its position from Earth and transmitting the data to space in a two-way relay system that may take minutes to hours to give instructions. 
    • This mode of navigation ensures that our spacecraft remain connected to the earth, waiting for instructions from our planet, no matter how far a mission goes across the solar system.
    • This constraint will obstruct any future crewed voyage to another planet. 

    How can astronauts travel to destinations distant from Earth if they don't have direct control over their path? 

    And how will they be able to land properly on another planet if there is a communication delay that slows down their ability to alter their trajectory into the atmosphere?

    The Deep Space Atomic Clock, a toaster-sized clock developed by NASA, seeks to provide answers to these concerns. 

    How a Toaster-Sized Atomic Clock Could Pave the Way for Deep Space  Exploration | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine

    • It's the first GPS-like device that's tiny enough to go on a spaceship and steady enough to operate. 
    • The technological demonstrated allows the spaceship to determine its location without relying on data from Earth.
    • The clock will be sent into Earth's orbit for a year in late June on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, where it will be tested to see whether it can assist spacecraft in locating themselves in space.

    If the Deep Orbit Atomic Clock's first year in space goes well, it may open the way for one-way navigation in the future, when humans can be led over the Moon's surface by a GPS-like system or safely fly their own missions to Mars and beyond.

    • Navigators on Earth guide every spaceship traveling to the furthest reaches of the universe. 
    • By allowing onboard autonomous navigation, or self-driving spaceship, the Deep Space Atomic Clock will alter that.

    Deep Space Navigation

    Atomic clocks in space are not a novel concept. 

    • Every GPS gadget and smartphone uses atomic clocks on satellites circling Earth to calculate its position. 
    • Satellites transmit signals from space, and the receiver triangulates your location by calculating the time it takes for the signals to reach your GPS.
    • At the moment, spacecraft beyond Earth's orbit do not have a GPS to help them navigate across space. 

    GPS satellites' atomic clocks aren't precise enough to transmit instructions to spacecraft, where even a fraction of a second may mean missing a planet by kilometers.

    • Instead, navigators transmit a signal to the spaceship, which bounces it back to Earth, using massive antennas on Earth.
    • Ground-based clocks keep track of how long it takes the signal to complete this two-way trip. 
    • The length of time informs them how far away and how quickly the spaceship is traveling. 
    • Only then will navigators be able to give the spacecraft instructions, instructing it where to travel.
    • "It's the same idea as an echo," Seubert said. "If I scream in front of a mountain, the longer it takes for the echo to return to me, the farther away the mountain is."

    Two-way navigation implies that a mission must wait for a signal containing instructions to traverse the enormous distances between planets, no matter how far into space it travels. 

    • It's a procedure made famous by Curiosity's arrival on Mars, when the world waited 14 minutes for the rover to transmit the word that it had landed safely with mission headquarters. 
    • A one-way communication between Earth and Mars may take anything from 4 to 20 minutes to get between the planets, depending on where they are in their orbits.
    • It's a sluggish, arduous method of navigating deep space, one that clogs up NASA's Deep Space Network's massive antennae like a busy phone line. 
    • A spaceship traveling at tens of thousands of kilometers per hour may be at a completely different location by the time it "knows" where it is during this interaction.

    Atomic Clocks To Compute Precise Locations In Space

    This two-way system may be replaced with an atomic clock small enough to go on a mission but precise enough to provide correct instructions. 

    • A signal would be sent from Earth to a spaceship in the future. 
    • The Deep Space Atomic Clock aboard, like its Earthly counterparts, would measure the time it took for that signal to reach it. 
    • After that, the spacecraft could compute its own location and course, effectively directing itself.

    Having a clock aboard would allow onboard radio navigation, which, when coupled with optical navigation, would provide astronauts with a more precise and safe method to navigate themselves.

    • This one-way navigation technique may be used on Mars and beyond. 
    • By sending a single signal into space, DSN antennas would be able to connect with many missions at the same time. 
    • The new technique has the potential to enhance GPS accuracy on Earth. 
    • Additionally, several spacecraft equipped with Deep Space Atomic Clocks might circle Mars, forming a GPS-like network that would guide robots and people on the surface.

    The Deep Space Atomic Clock will be able to assist in navigation not just on Earth, but also on distant planets. Consider what would happen if we had GPS on other planets.

    • Burt and JPL clock scientists Robert Tjoelker and John Prestage developed a mercury ion clock that, like refrigerator-size atomic clocks on Earth, retains its stability in space. 
    • The Deep Space Atomic Clock was shown to be 50 times more accurate than GPS clocks in lab testing. Every ten million years, there is a one-second mistake.
    • The clock's ability to stay steady in orbit will be determined by its demonstration in space. 
    • A Deep Space Atomic Clock may launch on a mission as early as the 2030s if it succeeds. 
    • The first step toward self-driving spaceship capable of transporting people to distant planets.

    General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems of Englewood, Colorado supplied the spacecraft for the Deep Space Atomic Clock. 

    It is supported by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate's Technology Demonstration Missions program and NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate's Space Communications and Navigations program. The project is overseen by JPL.

    ~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

    Courtesy -

    You may also want to read more about Space Missions and Systems here.

    How Does NASA's Perseverance Rover Take Selfies On Mars?

      The historic photo of the rover next to the Mars Helicopter turned out to be one of the most difficult rover selfies ever shot. 

      The procedure is explained in detail in this video, which also includes additional audio. 

      Have you ever wondered how rovers on Mars snap selfies? 

      NASA's Perseverance rover took the historic April 6, 2021, picture of itself alongside the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter in color video. 

      The sound of the arm's motors spinning was recorded by the rover's entry, descend, and landing microphone as an added bonus. 

      Engineers may use selfies to evaluate the rover's wear and tear. They do, however, inspire a new generation of space aficionados: 

      • Many members of the rover crew may recall a favorite picture that first piqued their interest in NASA. 
      • Vandi Verma, Perseverance's lead engineer for robotic operations at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, stated, "I got into this when I saw a photo from Sojourner, NASA's first Mars rover." 
      • Verma served as a driver for the agency's Opportunity and Curiosity rovers, and she was involved in the first selfie taken by Curiosity on Oct. 31, 2012. 
      • “We had no idea when we snapped that first selfie that these would become so iconic and routine,” she added. 
      • The rover's robotic arm twists and maneuvers to capture the 62 pictures that make up the image, as shown on video from one of Perseverance's navigation cameras. 
      • What it doesn't show is how much effort went into creating the first selfie. Let's take a deeper look. 


      Perseverance's selfie was made possible by a core group of approximately a dozen individuals, including rover drivers, JPL engineers who conducted tests, and camera operations engineers who created the camera sequence, analyzed the pictures, and stitched them together. 

      It took approximately a week to plan out all of the necessary individual instructions. 

      • Everyone was working on “Mars time,” which meant being up in the middle of the night and catching up on sleep throughout the day (a day on Mars is 37 minutes longer than on Earth). 
      • These members of the crew would occasionally forego sleep in order to complete the selfie. JPL collaborated with Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) in San Diego, which designed and operated the selfie camera. 

      The camera, dubbed WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering), is intended for close-up detail pictures of rock textures rather than wide-angle images. 

      • Engineers had to order the rover to snap hundreds of separate pictures to create the selfie since each WATSON image only captures a tiny part of a scene. 
      • Mike Ravine, MSSS's Advanced Projects Manager, stated, "The thing that required the greatest care was putting Ingenuity into the proper position in the selfie." 

      “Considering how tiny it is, I think we did fairly well.” The MSSS image processing experts got to work as soon as the pictures from Mars arrived. 

      • They begin by removing any imperfections produced by dust that has collected on the light sensors of the camera. 
      • They next use software to combine the individual picture frames into a mosaic and smooth out the seams. 
      • Finally, an engineer warps and crops the mosaic to make it seem more like a standard camera picture that the general public is familiar with. 

      Simulations on a computer. 

      Perseverance, like the Curiosity rover (seen taking a selfie in this black-and-white video from March 2020), has a spinning turret at the end of its robotic arm. 

      • The WATSON camera, which remains focused on the rover during selfies while being tilted to record a portion of the landscape, is housed in the turret among other scientific equipment. 
      • The arm serves as a selfie stick in the final result, staying just out of frame. 
      • Perseverance is considerably more difficult to get to video its selfie stick in action than Curiosity. 
      • Perseverance's turret is 30 inches (75 centimeters) wide, compared to Curiosity's 22 inches (55 centimeters). 
      • That's the equivalent of waving a road bike wheel a few millimeters in front of Perseverance's mast, the rover's "head." 
      • JPL developed software to prevent the arm from colliding with the rover. 
      • The engineering team changes the arm trajectory every time a collision is detected in simulations on Earth; the procedure is repeated hundreds of times to ensure the arm motion is safe. 
      • The last instruction sequence brings the robotic arm as near to the rover's body as possible without touching it. 

      Other simulations are performed to verify that the Ingenuity helicopter is properly positioned in the final photo, or that the microphone can catch sound from the robotic arm's motors, for example. 

      Microphone Onboard

      Perseverance has a microphone in its SuperCam instrument in addition to its entrance, descent, and landing microphones. 

      • The microphones are a first for NASA's Mars mission, and audio will be a valuable new tool for rover engineers in the coming years. 
      • It may be used to give crucial information about whether something is functioning properly, among other things. 
      • Engineers used to have to make do with listening to a test rover on Earth. 

      “It's like your car: even if you're not a technician, you may hear an issue before you know there's a problem,” Verma said. 

      The humming engines sound strangely melodic when echoing through the rover's chassis, despite the fact that they haven't heard anything alarming thus yet. 

      More Information about the Mission. 

      • Astrobiology, particularly the hunt for evidence of ancient microbial life, is a major goal for Perseverance's mission on Mars. 
      • The rover will study the planet's geology and climatic history, lay the path for human exploration of Mars, and be the first mission to gather and store Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust). 
      • Following NASA missions, in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), spacecraft would be sent to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for further study. 

      The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration strategy, which includes Artemis lunar missions to assist prepare for human exploration of Mars. 

      The Perseverance rover was constructed and is operated by JPL, which is administered for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California. 

      For additional information about Perseverance, go to:


      ~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

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