NASA Funds Research into Small Robots Designed to Explore Martian Caves

Illustration of ReachBot traversing a Martian cavern using microspine grippers across different types of treacherous terrain: (left) a vertically winding tunnel with a rocky and uneven floor, (center) an overhanging wall or ceiling, and (right) a sheer vertical wall in a large cavern or on a cliff. (Credits: Marco Pavone)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award
Funding: up to $125,000
Study Period: 9 months

ReachBot: Small Robot for Large Mobile Manipulation Tasks
in Martian Cave Environments
Marco Pavone
Stanford University
Stanford, Calif.

Synopsis

The objective of this effort is to develop a mission architecture where a long-reach crawling and anchoring robot, which repurposes extendable booms for mobile manipulation, is deployed to explore and sample difficult terrains on planetary bodies, with a key focus on Mars exploration. To this end, the robot concept we present here, called ReachBot, uses rollable extendable booms as manipulator arms and as highly reconfigurable structural members.

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Testing Proves Its Worth With Successful Mars Parachute Deployment

Video obtained by camera aboard the Mars 2020 spacecraft during parachute deployment on Feb. 18, 2021. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The giant canopy that helped land Perseverance on Mars was tested here on Earth at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

WALLOPS, Va. (NASA PR) — Test. Test again. Test again.

Testing spacecraft components prior to flight is vital for a successful mission.

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NIAC Award: Building a Levitating Railroad on the Moon

Artist’s depiction of the FLOAT lunar railway system to provide reliable, autonomous, and efficient payload transport on the Moon. (Credits: Ethan Schaler)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award
Funding: up to $125,000
Study Period: 9 months

FLOAT: Flexible Levitation on a Track
Ethan Schaler
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, Calif.

We want to build the first lunar railway system, which will provide reliable, autonomous, and efficient payload transport on the Moon. A durable, long-life robotic transport system will be critical to the daily operations of a sustainable lunar base in the 2030’s, as envisioned in NASA’s Moon to Mars plan and mission concepts like the Robotic Lunar Surface Operations 2 (RLSO2), to:

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Futuristic Space Technology Concepts Selected by NASA for Initial Study

This illustration shows a conceptual lunar railway system called FLOAT (Flexible Levitation on a Track) that has been selected for an early-stage feasibility study within the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Four advanced space concepts from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been selected to receive grants for further research and development.

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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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What will Ancient Sedimentary Rock Tell us About the History of Life on Mars?

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

Two Stony Brook professors involved in the Perseverance nission weigh In

STONY BROOK, NY, February 22, 2021 (Stony Brook University PR) — The new era of space exploration features two Stony Brook University faculty members as part of the development of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover that recently landed. Distinguished Professor Scott McLennan and Associate Professor Joel Hurowitz both worked on the PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry) that is attached to the arm of the rover.

The PIXL is a micro-focus X-ray fluorescence instrument that rapidly measures elemental chemistry by focusing an X-ray beam to a tiny spot on the target rock or soil, analyzing the induced X-ray fluorescence. Both professors have been working on Mars missions with NASA since 2004.

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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

NASA Perseverance Rover Briefing to Feature Landing Video

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. (NASA PR) — NASA will hold a virtual briefing at 2 p.m. EST (11 a.m. PST) today to unveil the “How to Land on Mars” video, which will present first-of-its-kind footage the Perseverance rover captured as it touched down on the Red Planet Feb. 18. The agency also will show new images the rover took on the Martian surface.

The briefing will be broadcast on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website and stream live on multiple agency social media platforms.

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NASA’s Busy Monday: Cygnus Docking, New Imagery & Video from Mars Perseverance Lander

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)

NASA TV will be busy on Monday with the rendezvous and capture of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus CRS-15 cargo ship to the International Space Station and an update on the Perseverance Rover on Mars.

NASA is promising new imagery and video from the Red Planet. Cameras recorded Perseverance’s descent to Mars. I predict the video will break the Internet.

The schedule is below. Watch it all live on NASA TV.

Feb. 22, Monday

3 a.m. EST (0800 UTC) — Coverage of the rendezvous and capture of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus CRS-15 cargo ship at the International Space Station
4 a.m. EST (0900 UTC) — Approximate time of capture of Cygnus with the International Space Station’s robotic arm
6 a.m. EST (1100 UTC) — Coverage of the installation of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus CRS-15 cargo ship to the International Space Station 
2 p.m. EST (1900 UTC) — Perseverance Mars Rover briefing, including new imagery and video from the Red Planet

NOVA “Looking for Life on Mars” Goes Inside the Mission to Search for Life on the Red Planet

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)
  • NOVA takes viewers behind the scenes as NASA’s Perseverance rover touches down in Mars’ Jezero crater
  • Premieres Wednesday, February 24 at 9 p.m. ET/8C on PBS
  • Also Available for Streaming Online and on the PBS video app

BOSTON, February 19, 2021 (PBS PR) — LOOKING FOR LIFE ON MARS, a one-hour special from the PBS science series NOVA, a production of GBH Boston, will follow NASA’s Mars 2020 mission—perhaps the most ambitious search yet for traces of ancient life on the red planet. The special premieres Wednesday, February 24 at 9 p.m. ET/8C on PBS and will be available for streaming online and on the PBS video app.

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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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NASA’s Mars Helicopter Reports In

In this illustration, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter stands on the Red Planet’s surface as NASA’s Perseverance rover (partially visible on the left) rolls away. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The technology demonstration has phoned home from where it is attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California have received the first status report from the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which landed Feb. 18, 2021, at Jezero Crater attached to the belly of the agency’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover.

The downlink, which arrived at 3:30 p.m. PST (6:30 p.m. EST) via a connection through the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, indicates that both the helicopter, which will remain attached to the rover for 30 to 60 days, and its base station (an electrical box on the rover that stores and routes communications between the rotorcraft and Earth) are operating as expected.

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Teledyne’s Technology to Help Perseverance Search for Past Life on Mars

Artist’s concept of NASA’s Perseverance Rover on Mars. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., February 19, 2021 (Teledyne Technologies PR) – Teledyne Technologies (NYSE: TDY) is proud to contribute several of its advanced high performance image sensors to form part of the complex instrumentation onboard the Mars Rover Perseverance. Teledyne sensors will power, sense and help analyze the chemical composition of the surface and minerals, including Gy and atmosphere during the Mars 2020 mission.

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