On Feb. 18th, 2021, after spending six months in transit, the Perseverance rover landed within the Jezero Crater on Mars. By March 4th, it started driving brief distances and calibrating its devices in preparation for all of the science operations it’s going to conduct. Most just lately, Perseverance started learning its first scientific goal, a rock that has been named “Máaz” – the Navajo phrase for “Mars.”
This function is one among many objects of scientific curiosity within the Jezero Crater which might be being given names from the Navajo language. The method is overseen by the Perseverance mission workforce in collaboration with the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President. That is in line with NASA’s custom of giving options nicknames in order that the mission workforce (which might quantity within the 1000’s) has a typical title for them.
Not too long ago, the Perseverance workforce named the rover’s touchdown web site the “Octavia E. Butler Touchdown” in honor of the late and esteemed science fiction creator who handed away in 2006. Equally, the Curiosity rover’s touchdown web site within the Gale Crater was named Bradbury Touchdown in honor of Ray Bradbury, the famed science fiction creator who is probably finest recognized for writing The Martian Chronicles.
On this case, the choice is an element of a bigger effort the place the rover’s touchdown web site was divided into 4 quadrangles (or “quads”). Every quad measures about 2.6 km2 (1 sq. mile) in measurement and is called after a nationwide park or nature protect on Earth with related geology. The quad the place Perseverance landed is called for Arizona’s Tséyi (Canyon de Chelly) Nationwide Monument, situated within the coronary heart of the Navajo Nation.
One of many engineers on the mission workforce is Aaron Yazzie of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who’s himself Navajo (or Diné). Via Yazzie, NASA south the permission and cooperation of the Navajo Nation to call new options on Mars. In response, Jonathan Nez and Myron Lizer (the President and VP of the Navajo Nation, respectively) and their advisors compiled a listing of phrases and made them out there to the rover’s workforce.
As an illustration, Perseverance‘s title was translated to “Ha’anhóni,” whereas phrases like bidziil (“energy”) and ho? nil?? (“respect”) have been additionally emphasised as doable names for options. Different phrases have been impressed by terrain that has already been imaged by the rover, resembling tséwózí bee hazhmeezh, which interprets to “rolling rows of pebbles, like waves.” As Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez mentioned in a NASA press release:
“The partnership that the Nez-Lizer Administration has constructed with NASA will assist to revitalize our Navajo language. We hope that having our language used within the Perseverance mission will encourage extra of our younger Navajo individuals to know the significance and the importance of studying our language. Our phrases have been used to assist win World Struggle II, and now we’re serving to to navigate and study extra in regards to the planet Mars.”
At current, the Perseverance workforce has a listing of 50 names to begin, however the workforce will proceed to work with the Navajo Nation to incorporate extra names for options because the rover continues to determine them. “This fateful touchdown on Mars has created a particular alternative to encourage Navajo youth not simply by way of wonderful scientific and engineering feats, but additionally by way of the inclusion of our language in such a significant means,” added Yazzle.
One of many greatest challenges has been adapting Navajo script in such a means that Perseverance’s methods are capable of acknowledge it. With the intention to convey the distinctive pronunciation of Navajo phrases, particular accents are included (which the rover’s computerized language doesn’t acknowledge). For now, the workforce is avoiding problems by merely utilizing English letters with out particular accents or punctuations.
Nevertheless, Yazzie additionally indicated that the workforce will proceed to work to seek out methods to convey the correct intonations. Said Nez:
“We’re very pleased with one among our very personal, Aaron Yazzie, who’s taking part in a significant position in NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Mission. We’re excited for the NASA workforce and for Aaron and we see him as being an excellent position mannequin who will encourage extra curiosity within the STEM fields of research and hopefully encourage extra of our younger individuals to pursue STEM careers to make even better impacts and contributions simply as Aaron is doing. Because the mission continues, we provide our prayers for continued success.”
Katie Stack Morgan, the Deputy Venture Scientist of the PerseveranceI mission at JPL, added that scientists on the workforce have embraced the chance to study Navajo phrases and their which means. “This partnership is encouraging the rover’s science workforce to be extra considerate in regards to the names being thought of for options on Mars – what they imply each geologically and to individuals on Earth,” she mentioned.
Within the close to future, the rover will likely be operating extra exams to calibrate its superior suite of devices. These will likely be relied on when Perseverance examines Máaz’s composition and what it may inform us in regards to the historical past of the Jezero Crater. The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter may also be making one other experimental take a look at flight to check its methods and capabilities.
The varieties of discoveries Perseverance will permit for have scientists all around the world eagerly awaiting the rovers scientific returns!
Additional Studying: NASA