Since NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars on 18 February, it’s been doing as a lot science as it could possibly through the testing part of its scientific devices. That has concerned driving quick distances and taking footage of the rocks close to the touchdown web site.
“Thus far, all of this has been going exceedingly nicely,” stated Ken Farley at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, throughout a presentation on the digital Lunar and Planetary Science Convention. “We’ve had no main technical points.” The rover’s first drive on four March – which lasted 33 minutes and lined about 6.5 metres – demonstrated that it could possibly, the truth is, rove, and the opposite checks are going easily as nicely, he stated.
The rover introduced a microphone with it to Mars, which has allowed us to listen to the Pink Planet for the primary time. Perseverance recorded greater than 16 minutes of audio because it drove round on Mars on 7 March, and a few of that audio is beneath.
“If I heard these sounds driving my automobile, I’d pull over and name for a tow,” stated Dave Gruel at JPL in a statement. “However for those who take a minute to contemplate what you’re listening to and the place it was recorded, it makes excellent sense.” Nonetheless, one of many high-pitched scratching noises within the recordings was sudden, and NASA engineers are actually attempting to determine what’s inflicting it.
Perseverance has additionally zapped a number of of the rocks close to its touchdown web site with its laser to find out their chemical compositions. They’re much like basaltic rocks on Earth, and a few of them additionally seem to have water locked up of their molecular construction. Most of the close by rocks include seen holes, a few of which had been most likely bored by wind, whereas others might have been sculpted by flowing water.
All of those findings are precisely what scientists anticipated – basalts kind from molten rock, and we knew that Jezero crater, the place Perseverance landed, should have volcanic rocks that had been as soon as lined by the lake that used to fill the crater.
One of many testing photos even confirmed a Martian dust devil transferring throughout the floor. These are frequent on Mars – many of the spacecraft we’ve despatched there, together with the Viking landers within the 1970s, have noticed them in some unspecified time in the future.
Perseverance’s subsequent main activity shall be to check Ingenuity, the small helicopter that the rover carried in its stomach to Mars. For that, Perseverance will drop Ingenuity off, drive a brief distance away and try to take a video of the helicopter because it lifts off into the Martian air.
After Ingenuity’s check flights, that are anticipated to occur this spring, the rover shall be free to drive additional afield and start its science part in earnest. At that time it can start trying to find indicators of historical life and taking samples to be returned to Earth by a later mission deliberate for 2026.
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