Was There Life on Mars? UK Scientists Play Key Part in NASA Mission to Red Planet

Panorama of Perseverance Rover’s landing site on Mars. (Credit: NASA)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — After a seven-month journey, NASA’s car-sized Mars Perseverance rover will make its final descent to the Red Planet to begin its search for traces of life.

The rover’s mission – backed by the UK government – is to explore and collect samples for future return to Earth from diverse ancient environments on Mars. Supported by over £400,000 in funds from the UK Space Agency, researchers at Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum will help to decide which samples are sent to Earth in a search for evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars.

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NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Provides Front-Row Seat to Landing, First Audio Recording of Red Planet

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — New video from NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover chronicles major milestones during the final minutes of its entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on the Red Planet on Feb. 18 as the spacecraft plummeted, parachuted, and rocketed toward the surface of Mars. A microphone on the rover also has provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars.

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Video of Perseverance Rover’s Descent and Touchdown on Mars

Video Caption: NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance mission captured thrilling footage of its rover landing in Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021. The real footage in this video was captured by several cameras that are part of the rover’s entry, descent, and landing suite. The views include a camera looking down from the spacecraft’s descent stage (a kind of rocket-powered jet pack that helps fly the rover to its landing site), a camera on the rover looking up at the descent stage, a camera on the top of the aeroshell (a capsule protecting the rover) looking up at that parachute, and a camera on the bottom of the rover looking down at the Martian surface.

The audio embedded in the video comes from the mission control call-outs during entry, descent, and landing.

For more information about Perseverance, visit https://mars.nasa.gov/perseverance

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Motiv Technology Reaches Mars as Part of Perseverance Rover Mission

This high-resolution still image is part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. A camera aboard the descent stage captured this shot. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif., (Motiv Space Systems PR) — After traveling for about 7 months and nearly 300 million miles, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover landed on the Red Planet on Thursday. After landing, the rover will rely on several technologies developed by Motiv Space Systems, a space robotics company based in Pasadena, California.

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Spectacular Image: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Captures Perseverance Rover Descent to Surface

The descent stage holding NASA’s Perseverance rover can be seen falling through the Martian atmosphere. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The descent stage holding NASA’s Perseverance rover can be seen falling through the Martian atmosphere, its parachute trailing behind, in this image taken on Feb. 18, 2021, by the High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The ancient river delta, which is the target of the Perseverance mission, can be seen entering Jezero Crater from the left.

HiRISE was approximately 435 miles (700 kilometers) from Perseverance and traveling at about 6750 mile per hour (3 kilometers per second) at the time the image was taken.  The extreme distance and high speeds of the two spacecraft were challenging conditions that required precise timing and for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to both pitch upward and roll hard to the left so that Perseverance was viewable by HiRISE at just the right moment.

The orbiter’s mission is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. JPL, a division of Caltech, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, built the spacecraft. The University of Arizona provided and operates HiRISE.

Touchdown! NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Safely Lands on Red Planet

A low-resolution image of the Perseverance rover’s landing site taken by an engineering camera. Dust stirred up by the landing partially obscures the terrain. (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The largest, most advanced rover NASA has sent to another world touched down on Mars Thursday, after a 203-day journey traversing 293 million miles (472 million kilometers). Confirmation of the successful touchdown was announced in mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California at 3:55 p.m. EST (12:55 p.m. PST).

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NASA’s Perseverance Rover Lands Safely on Mars

A low-resolution image of the Perseverance rover’s landing site taken by an engineering camera. Martian dust stirred up by the landing partially obscures the terrain. (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif., February 18, 2021 (NASA PR) — Cheers erupted in mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as controllers confirmed that NASA’s Perseverance rover, with the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter attached to its belly, has touched down safely on Mars. Engineers are analyzing the data flowing back from the spacecraft.

Perseverance touched down in Jezero Crater at around 3:55 p.m. EST (12:55 p.m. PST) on Feb. 18, 2021. A postlanding briefing is expected at 5:30 p.m. EST (2:30 p.m. PST) on NASA TV and YouTube.

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Searching for Life in NASA’s Perseverance Mars Samples

The rocks along the shoreline of Lake Salda in Turkey were formed by microbes that trap minerals and sediments in the water. Studying these ancient microbial fossils on Earth help Mars 2020 scientists prepare for their mission. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

When the agency’s newest rover mission searches for fossilized microscopic life on the Red Planet, how will scientists know whether they’ve found it?

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will be the agency’s ninth mission to land on the Red Planet. Along with characterizing the planet’s geology and climate, and paving the way for human exploration beyond the Moon, the rover is focused on astrobiology, or the study of life throughout the universe. Perseverance is tasked with searching for telltale signs that microbial life may have lived on Mars billions of years ago. It will collect rock core samples in metal tubes, and future missions would return these samples to Earth for deeper study.

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NASA’s Next Mars Rover Is Ready for the Most Precise Landing Yet

The aeroshell containing NASA’s Perseverance rover guides itself towards the Martian surface as it descends through the atmosphere in this illustration. Hundreds of critical events must execute perfectly and exactly on time for the rover to land on Mars safely on Feb. 18, 2021. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

What to expect when the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover arrives at the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — With about 2.4 million miles (3.9 million kilometers) left to travel in space, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is days away from attempting to land the agency’s fifth rover on the Red Planet. Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, where the mission is managed, have confirmed that the spacecraft is healthy and on target to touch down in Jezero Crater at around 3:55 p.m. EST (12:55 p.m. PST) on Feb. 18, 2021.

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ESA Mars Orbiters Support NASA Perseverance Landing

ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter will relay data from NASA’s Perseverance rover to ground stations on Earth. (Credit: ESA)
  • On 18 February, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will land on the Red Planet
  • ESA’s Mars orbiters – the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Mars Express – are supporting the landing
  • TGO will relay important data from Perseverance to Earth as soon as four hours after landing
  • Mars Express is monitoring the local conditions at the landing site, Jezero Crater
  • Both ESA orbiters are providing context images of the region
  • TGO will attempt to image the rover in the weeks after landing

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is due to land on the Red Planet at 21:43 CET on 18 February 2021. In order to communicate with Earth from its landing site in Jezero Crater, the rover will rely on spacecraft orbiting Mars to relay the images and other data it collects back to Earth and pass on the commands from engineers beamed across space in the other direction.

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7 Things to Know About the NASA Rover About to Land on Mars

In a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — With only about 50 million miles (80 million kilometers) left to go in its 293-million-mile (471-million-kilometer) journey, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is nearing its new planetary home. The spacecraft has begun its approach to the Red Planet and in 43 days, on Feb. 18, 2021, Perseverance will blaze through Mars’ atmosphere at about 12,100 mph (19,500 kph), touching down gently on the surface about seven minutes later.

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Franco-American SuperCam on Way to Mars Aboard Perseverance Rover

A close-up of the head of Mars Perseverance’s remote sensing mast. The mast head contains the SuperCam instrument (its lens is in the large circular opening). In the gray boxes beneath mast head are the two Mastcam-Z imagers. On the exterior sides of those imagers are the rover’s two navigation cameras. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Thursday 30 July, the Mars 2020 mission successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida atop an Atlas V launcher. For the Perseverance rover carrying the French-U.S. SuperCam instrument, the long voyage to the red planet has begun. The mission is scheduled to land on Mars on 18 February 2021.

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Flight Over the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Landing Site

Video Caption: This video shows Jezero crater, the landing site of the NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on the Red Planet, based on images from ESA’s Mars Express mission. The planned landing area is marked with an orange ellipse.

Launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on 30 July 2020 on board an Atlas V rocket, the Perseverance rover will land on 18 February 2021 in Jezero crater.

An impact crater with a diameter of about 45 km, Jezero is located at the rim of the giant Isidis impact basin. Morphological evidence suggests that the crater once hosted a lake, some 3.5 billion years ago.

Jezero possesses an inlet- and an outlet channel. The inlet channel discharges into a fan-delta deposit, containing water-rich minerals such as smectite clays. Scientists believe that the lake was relatively long lived because the delta may have required 1 to 10 million years to reach its thickness and size.

Other studies conclude that the lake did not experience periods of important water-level fluctuations and that it was formed by a continuous surface runoff. This makes Jezero crater to a prime target for the search for potential signs of microbial life, because organic molecules are very well preserved in river deltas and lake sediments.

A recent study of the ancient lakeshores, diverse minerals and violent volcanism of Jezero crater based on data from ESA’s Mars Express mission is available here: https://bit.ly/MarsExpressHelpsUncove…

The animation was created using an image mosaic made from four single orbit observations obtained by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on Mars Express between 2004 and 2008.

The mosaic combines data from the HRSC nadir and colour channels; the nadir channel is aligned perpendicular to the surface of Mars, as if looking straight down at the surface.

The mosaic image was then combined with topography information from the stereo channels of HRSC to generate a three-dimensional landscape, which was then recorded from different perspectives, as with a movie camera, to render the flight shown in the video.

Copyright:
Animation: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
Music: Björn Schreiner
Soundtrack logo: Alicia Neeseman

Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Out of Safe Mode

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover onboard launches from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Thursday, July 30, 2020, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Perseverance rover is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the Red Planet. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Flight controllers for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission have returned the spacecraft to nominal flight operations.

Launched on July 30 at 7:50 a.m. EDT (4:50 a.m. PDT), Mars 2020 entered a state called safe mode soon after it was placed on an interplanetary trajectory because a sensor indicated that part of the spacecraft was slightly colder than expected. When a spacecraft enters safe mode, all but essential systems are turned off until it receives new commands from mission control.

“With safe mode exit, the team is getting down to the business of interplanetary cruise,” said Mars 2020 deputy project manager Matt Wallace of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Next stop, Jezero Crater.”

Managed by JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA’s Artemis program.

Mars 2020 Mission to be Guided by USGS Astrogeology Maps

Oblique view looking toward the northwest shows the western rim and floor of Jezero crater on Mars. (Credit: USGS Astrogeology Science Center)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (USGS PR) — When you’re planning to explore someplace new, it’s always a good idea to bring a map so you can avoid dangerous terrain. This is true whether you’re heading out for a hike on Earth or you’re landing a rover on Mars.

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