Showing posts with label Space tech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Space tech. Show all posts

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 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

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

    Juno, NASA's Spacecraft, Takes A Close Look At Jupiter's Moon Ganymede


    From the left to the right: The mosaic and geologic maps of Ganymede, Jupiter's moon, were created using the finest available photos from NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft, as well as NASA's Galileo spacecraft. 

    Credit: USGS Astrogeology Science Center/Wheaton/NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS Astrogeology Science Center/Wheaton/NASA/JPL-Caltech 

    After more than 20 years, the first of the gas-giant orbiter's back-to-back flybys will deliver a close encounter with the gigantic moon. 

    NASA's Juno spacecraft will pass within 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) of Jupiter's biggest moon, Ganymede, on Monday, June 7 at 1:35 p.m. EDT (10:35 a.m. PDT). Since NASA's Galileo spacecraft made its last near approach to the solar system's largest natural satellite on May 20, 2000, the flyby will be the closest a spacecraft has gotten near the solar system's greatest natural satellite. 

    The solar-powered spacecraft's flyby will provide insights about the moon's composition, ionosphere, magnetosphere, and ice shell, in addition to stunning photographs. Future missions to the Jovian system will benefit from Juno's studies of the radiation environment around the moon. 

    Ganymede is the only moon in the solar system with its own magnetosphere, a bubble-shaped area of charged particles around the celestial body that is larger than Mercury. “Juno contains a suite of sensitive equipment capable of observing Ganymede in ways never previously possible,” stated Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio Principal Investigator Scott Bolton. 

    “By flying so close, we will bring Ganymede exploration into the twenty-first century, complementing future missions with our unique sensors and assisting in the preparation of the next generation of missions to the Jovian system, including NASA's Europa Clipper and ESA's Jupiter ICy moons Explorer [JUICE] mission.” 

    About three hours before the spacecraft's closest approach, Juno's science equipment will begin gathering data. Juno's Microwave Radiometer (MWR) will gaze through Ganymede's water-ice crust, gathering data on its composition and temperature, alongside the Ultraviolet Spectrograph (UVS) and Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) sensors. 

    A spinning Ganymede globe with a geologic chart placed over a global color mosaic is animated. Credit: USGS Astrogeology Science Center/Wheaton/ASU/NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS Astrogeology Science Center/Wheaton/ASU/NASA/JPL-Caltech 

    “The ice shell of Ganymede contains some light and dark parts, implying that certain parts may be pure ice while others include filthy ice,” Bolton explained. 

    “MWR will conduct the first comprehensive study of how ice composition and structure change with depth, leading to a deeper understanding of how the ice shell originates and the mechanisms that resurface the ice over time.” 

    The findings will be used to supplement those from ESA's upcoming JUICE mission, which will study ice using radar at various wavelengths when it launches in 2032 to become the first spacecraft to circle a moon other than Earth's Moon. 

    Juno's X-band and Ka-band radio frequencies will be utilized in a radio occultation experiment to study the moon's fragile ionosphere (the outer layer of an atmosphere where gases are excited by solar radiation to form ions, which have an electrical charge). 

    “As Juno travels behind Ganymede, radio signals will travel over Ganymede's ionosphere, generating modest variations in frequency that should be picked up by two antennas at the Deep Space Network's Canberra complex in Australia,” said Dustin Buccino, a Juno mission signal analysis engineer at JPL. “We might be able to grasp the relationship between Ganymede's ionosphere, its intrinsic magnetic field, and Jupiter's magnetosphere if we can monitor this change.” 

    With NASA's interactive Eyes on the Solar System, you can see where Juno is right now. 

    The Juno spacecraft is a dynamic technical wonder, with three huge blades reaching out 66 feet (20 meters) from its cylindrical, six-sided body, spinning to keep itself steady as it executes oval-shaped orbits around Jupiter. 

    Juno's Stellar Reference Unit (SRU) navigation camera is normally responsible for keeping the Jupiter spacecraft on track, but it will perform double duty during the flyby. 

    Along with its navigational functions, the camera will collect information on the high-energy radiation environment in the region surrounding Ganymede by capturing a particular collection of photos. 

    The camera is adequately insulated against radiation that may otherwise harm it. “In Jupiter's harsh radiation environment, the traces from penetrating high-energy particles appear in the photos as dots, squiggles, and streaks — like static on a television screen. 

    According to Heidi Becker, Juno's radiation monitoring lead at JPL, "we extract these radiation-induced noise patterns from SRU photos to obtain diagnostic pictures of the radiation levels encountered by Juno." 

    Meanwhile, the Advanced Stellar Compass camera, developed by the Technical University of Denmark, will count very intense electrons that pass through its shielding at a quarter-second interval. The JunoCam imager has also been enlisted. 

    The camera was designed to transmit the thrill and beauty of Jupiter exploration to the public, but it has also given a wealth of essential research throughout the mission's almost five-year stay there. JunoCam will capture photographs at a resolution comparable to the best from Voyager and Galileo for the Ganymede flyby. 

    The Juno research team will examine the photographs and compare them to those taken by earlier missions, seeking for changes in surface characteristics that may have happened over four decades or more. 

    Any changes in the pattern of craters on the surface might aid astronomers in better understanding the present population of objects that collide with moons in the outer solar system. 

    Due to the speed of the flyby, the frozen moon will change from a point of light to a visible disk and back to a point of light in roughly 25 minutes from JunoCam's perspective. 

    There's just enough time for five photographs in that amount of time. “Things move quickly in the area of flybys, and we have two back-to-back flybys coming up next week. As a result, every second counts,” stated Juno Mission Manager Matt Johnson of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 

    “On Monday, we'll fly through Ganymede at about 12 miles per second (19 kilometers per second). We're making our 33rd scientific flyby of Jupiter in less than 24 hours, swooping low over the cloud tops at around 36 miles per second (58 kilometers per second). It's going to be a roller coaster.” even more Concerning the Mission. 

    The Juno mission is managed by JPL, a subsidiary of Caltech in Pasadena, California, for the principle investigator, Scott J. Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA's New Frontiers Program, which is administered for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. 

    The spacecraft was manufactured and is operated by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver. 


    Posted by Jai Krishna Ponnappan

    More data on Juno may be found at, for further details.

    Follow the mission on social media at 

    and on Twitter at 

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