3 For Mars

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Re: 3 For Mars

#181 Post by PHXPhlyer » Wed May 25, 2022 5:30 pm

The NASA Mars InSight lander just took its final selfie

https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/25/world/na ... index.html

This is the last time we’ll ever see a selfie from NASA’s InSight lander on Mars. And judging by the amount of dust coating the lander’s solar panels, it’s easy to see why.

The stationary spacecraft captured the image on April 24 using its robotic arm, which will soon be placed into a final resting position called “retirement pose” this month. In order to take a selfie, the arm has to move several times, and that won’t be possible anymore.

“Before losing more solar energy, I took some time to take in my surroundings and snapped my final selfie before I rest my arm and camera permanently in the stowed position,” the InSight account tweeted on Tuesday.

Due to a decreasing power supply, the mission will cease scientific operations by the end of late summer. It has been revealing the mysterious interior of Mars since landing in November 2018.

InSight’s solar panels have been increasingly covered in red Martian dust, despite creative efforts by the mission’s team on Earth. This accumulation will only worsen as Mars now enters winter, when more dust is lofted into the atmosphere.

These floating particles reduce the sunlight necessary to charge the solar panels that power InSight, which is currently working on an extended mission that was expected to last through December. The mission achieved its primary goals after its first two years on Mars.

The final selfie shows that the lander is covered with far more dust than it was in previous selfies from December 2018 and April 2019.

This artist's concept depicts NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft entering interstellar space, or the space between stars. Interstellar space is dominated by the plasma, or ionized gas, that was ejected by the death of nearby giant stars millions of years ago. The environment inside our solar bubble is dominated by the plasma exhausted by our sun, known as the solar wind.

The interstellar plasma is shown with an orange glow similar to the color seen in visible-light images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope that show stars in the Orion nebula traveling through interstellar space.

The Voyager spacecraft were built and continue to be operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. The Voyager missions are a part of NASA's Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The lander went into safe mode on May 7, when its energy levels dropped, causing it to cease everything but essential functions. The team anticipates this could happen more frequently in the future as dust levels increase.

The stationary lander is only able to collect about one-tenth of the available power supply it had after landing on Mars in November 2018. When InSight first landed, it could produce about 5,000 watt-hours each day on Mars, the equivalent of what it takes to power an electric oven for an hour and 40 minutes.

Now, the lander produces 500 watt-hours per day, enough to power an electric oven for just 10 minutes. If 25% of the solar panels were cleaned, InSight would experience a power boost sufficient to keep it going. The spacecraft has witnessed many dust devils, or whirlwinds, but none have been close enough to clear off the solar panels.

“We’ve been hoping for a dust cleaning like we saw happen several times to the Spirit and Opportunity rovers,” said Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement. “That’s still possible, but energy is low enough that our focus is making the most of the science we can still collect.”

By the end of the summer, the team will turn off the seismometer, end science operations, and monitor what power levels remain on the lander. At the end of the year, the InSight mission will conclude.

The InSight team, however, will still listen for any possible communication from the spacecraft and determine if it could ever operate again.

The lander’s highly sensitive seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes from hundreds and thousands of miles away. InSight detected the largest one yet, a magnitude 5, on May 4.

“Even as we’re starting to get close to the end of our mission, Mars is still giving us some really amazing things to see,” Banerdt said.

The data collected by InSight so far has revealed new details about the little-known Martian core, interior layers and crust. It has also recorded weather data and analyzed the remains of the magnetic field that once existed on Mars.

InSight’s steady stream of data heading to scientists on Earth will stop when the solar cells can no longer generate enough power. But researchers will be studying the detections made by InSight for decades to come in order to learn as much as possible about our enigmatic planetary neighbor.

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Re: 3 For Mars

#182 Post by PHXPhlyer » Wed Jun 08, 2022 2:09 am

Mars Ingenuity helicopter is on borrowed time as it endures winter

https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/06/world/in ... index.html

Just a couple of weeks after the Ingenuity helicopter celebrated a year of flying on Mars, things got quiet.

For the first time, the Ingenuity team on Earth lost contact with Ingenuity on sols 427 and 428, or Martian days that correspond with May 3 and May 4. The little chopper’s engineers spent a week investigating what might have caused the communication blackout.

The team discovered that loss of contact occurred because Ingenuity experienced insufficient battery charge as night fell. This reduced voltage reset the mission clock, causing the helicopter’s system to be out of sync with its companion, the Perseverance rover. While Ingenuity has returned to relaying messages reliably to Earth through the rover, the team expects this issue could happen again.

That’s because it’s early winter on Mars. Winter on the red planet will last until September or October. During Martian winter, dust gets lofted into the atmosphere and obscures the light necessary to charge Ingenuity’s solar panels.


The parachute and cone-shaped backshell protected the rover during its fiery descent toward the Martian surface on Feb. 18, 2021. Engineers working on the Mars Sample Return program requested images be taken of the components from an aerial perspective because they may provide insight into the components' performance during the rover's entry, descent, and landing.

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which also manages the project for NASA Headquarters. It is supported by NASA's Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, and NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance during Ingenuity's development. AeroVironment Inc., Qualcomm, and SolAero also provided design assistance and major vehicle components. Lockheed Martin Space designed and manufactured the Mars Helicopter Delivery System.

So far, Ingenuity has logged 4.2 miles (6.8 kilometers) across 28 different flights.

The helicopter remains healthy and has resumed operations, albeit a bit modified, and the team remains optimistic that Ingenuity will soon go for its 29th flight. But there is no mistaking that Ingenuity is on borrowed time.

“Challenges like these are to be expected: After hundreds of sols and dozens of flights beyond the five flights originally planned, the solar-powered helicopter is in uncharted terrain,” Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity team lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, wrote in an update.

“We are now operating far outside our original design limits. Historically, Mars is very challenging for spacecraft (particularly solar-powered spacecraft). Each sol could be Ingenuity’s last.”

Martian winter is coming
With winter on Mars, Ingenuity will experience more dust in the air and dropping temperatures – both of which could wreak havoc on the chopper’s ability to stay powered, warm and operational.

As a result, Ingenuity will no longer be able to maintain its battery and electronics at a programmed temperature threshold of minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 25 degrees Celsius) using heaters.

Instead, the aerial vehicle will experience overnight temperatures of minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 80 degrees Celsius), which could pose a risk to any electronic components. So far, these are holding steady and haven’t sustained damage during the frigid nights.

Each morning as the helicopter warms up and recharges, the blackout from the previous night will misalign the mission clock.

NASA's InSight Mars lander took this final selfie on April 24, 2022, the 1,211th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.
InSight lander's final selfie on Mars shows why its mission is ending
Perseverance has to be a little more creative now when communicating with Ingenuity. Basically, the rover has to allow for the helicopter “sleeping in” and waking up at the wrong time because of its clock issue. Using its onboard Helicopter Base Station, Perseverance is able to chat with Ingenuity each day and reprogram the chopper’s mission clock for that day.

The Ingenuity team can’t predict how Ingenuity’s electronics core module components will perform throughout winter, but “cold-soaking electronics is believed to have caused the end of the Opportunity and Spirit Mars rover missions,” Tzanetos wrote in the update.

Currently, Ingenuity reaches sunset on Mars with about a 68% state of charge for its battery. The chopper needs at least 70% to keep its heaters, clock and core electronics powered overnight, JPL engineers estimated.

“Our 2% (state-of-charge) deficit is expected to grow to a 7% deficit once we reach winter solstice (Sol 500 in July), at which point conditions will start to improve,” Tzanetos wrote.

Preparing for the future
Retrieving data from Ingenuity, including its flight performance logs and color images from the previous eight flights, has become the top priority. Next, the mission team will determine if the helicopter is ready for another flight and have the chopper perform a high-speed spin of its rotors.

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover used its Mastcam-Z camera system to shoot video of Phobos, one of Mars' two moons, eclipsing the Sun. It's the most zoomed-in, highest-frame-rate observation of a Phobos solar eclipse ever taken from the Martian surface.
Perseverance rover watches eclipse of Mars' doomed 'potato' moon
If Ingenuity is able to do a short flight to the southwest, the little copter will be in a good position to communicate with the Perseverance rover as it studies and collects samples from an ancient river delta.

The flight software team is also working on upgrades for Ingenuity’s advanced navigation capabilities to help it fly over the river delta and continue operating as an aerial scout for the rover.

“The Perseverance and Ingenuity operations teams have done an extraordinary job in reestablishing reliable communications with Ingenuity,” Tzanetos wrote.

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Re: 3 For Mars

#183 Post by PHXPhlyer » Fri Jun 10, 2022 3:00 pm

Perseverance rover has made a friend on Mars

https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/09/world/pe ... index.html

The Perseverance rover made friends with a pet rock about four months ago, and the two have been inseparable ever since.

A rock found its way into the rover’s left front wheel in early February while roaming around the red planet, according to Perseverance’s left hazard avoidance camera.

In four months, the rock has traveled more than 5.3 miles (8.5 kilometers) across the rugged terrain. It joined the mission during the campaign to explore Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient lake and river delta, in which NASA scientists surveyed rocks from a formation the team refers to as “Máaz.”

The rock accompanied Perseverance north to the Octavia E. Butler landing site before turning west to the remains of a delta the scientists call “Kodiak,” then onward to the western Jezero delta.

The Mars rover’s current focus is drilling cores and examing the sedimentary rocks around the delta area. These rocks were created billions of years ago when there was water in the area, according to NASA.

Tumbling about in the rover’s wheel, Perseverance’s pet rock is not hurting operations, and it remains to be seen how long the robotic explorer’s new friend will stick around.

If the pet rock falls out and says goodbye to the rover, it will be far from home, surrounded by strange, unfamiliar rocks.

Spirit’s and Curiosity’s pet rocks
Perseverance isn’t the first Mars rover to adopt a pet rock.

The Spirit rover, which was active from 2004 to 2010, had a potato-size rock lodged in its right rear wheel early on in its journey. The stone stalled the wheel, so NASA scientists had to dislodge it.

The Curiosity rover was no stranger to hitchhiking rocks and had multiple stones take a ride in its front right wheel for weeks at a time. The rover began roaming the red planet in mid-2012 and is still operational.

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Re: 3 For Mars

#184 Post by G-CPTN » Fri Jun 10, 2022 6:06 pm

PHXPhlyer wrote:
Fri Jun 10, 2022 3:00 pm


The Spirit rover, which was active from 2004 to 2010, had a potato-size rock lodged in its right rear wheel early on in its journey.
What size potato?

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Re: 3 For Mars

#185 Post by PHXPhlyer » Fri Jun 10, 2022 6:15 pm

There is a picture in the linked article of the rock in the wheel.
You'll have to get the specs on the wheel size for scale.

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Re: 3 For Mars

#186 Post by Boac » Sun Jan 15, 2023 8:54 pm

Almost unbelievable that the Mars helo is still operating. Flight 39 a couple of days ago. I think it was expected only to make a dozen or so flights.

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Re: 3 For Mars

#187 Post by PHXPhlyer » Fri Apr 14, 2023 2:59 pm

50 flights on Mars! Ingenuity helicopter's record-setting hop is a giant leap for exploration
By Elizabeth Howell published about 5 hours ago
Ingenuity flew higher than ever before on Mars flight number 50, which occurred on Thursday (April 13).

https://www.space.com/mars-helicopter-i ... SmartBrief

NASA's incredible Mars helicopter has now flown 50 times on the Red Planet.

Originally rated for just five Martian sorties, Ingenuity notched its 50th on Thursday (April 13), acing a 146-second flight(opens in new tab) that took it 59 feet (18 meters) above the Red Planet's surface — higher than it's ever gone before.

The 4-pound (1.8 kilograms) drone continues its epic journey on Mars, serving as a scout for NASA's Perseverance rover mission and testing key tech that could help return samples from the Red Planet in the coming years as part of the ongoing search for life on Mars.

"She has blown out of the water any sort of metric of success," Theodore Tzanetos, Ingenuity team lead at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, told Space.com last month.

"It's not just a statement of our reliability design, but it's also a statement about the technicians that can assemble this thing, right?" he said. Tzanetos added that the Ingenuity team "has really done miraculous work" that will help in getting two sample return helicopters flying on Mars a few short years from now.

No rotorcraft had flown on a world beyond Earth before Ingenuity made its first tentative hop on April 19, 2021, just two months after it landed on the floor of Mars' Jezero Crater aboard Perseverance.

Ingenuity hovered 10 feet (3 m) off the ground during a 40-second flight, a milestone hailed by then-NASA science chief Thomas Zurbuchen as "a true extraterrestrial Wright Brothers moment."

Getting Ingenuity off the ground was a milestone in itself, as the Martian atmosphere is quite thin and nobody can directly stick-shift the helicopter from Earth; the time delay between communications and receipt is too long for real-time control. But the flight plan uploaded to Ingenuity went well, and other flights ensued.

"The primary goal is still alive: to be a technology demonstrator," Tzanetos said. But the drone is also now serving as a scout for Perseverance, as the duo explore an ancient river delta on the floor of Mars' Jezero Crater. Moreover, the focus is shifting to refining operations, teamwork and design decisions as NASA works to develop two Martian helicopters for its Red Planet sample-return effort.

The dual drones on the sample return mission, which is slated to launch in 2028, will serve as backups for Perseverance if the rover cannot ferry the samples it's currently collecting to a rocket-toting lander on its own; the rover has cached some sample tubes in a "depot" on Jezero's floor, which the little Ingenuity-like choppers could fetch and return to their mothership lander.

To help mission planners get ready for the sample-return effort and other future rotorcraft missions, Ingenuity continues to carefully push its limits. A new "mitigation capability" added in a recent software update allows the drone to pick its own landing zone if it deems the default area too rocky or otherwise dangerous. Its navigation system was also upgraded to include digital elevation maps to account for the hills it must navigate, miles away from its original flight paths.

Meanwhile, the team is keeping track of how Ingenuity flies in the Martian atmosphere, the amount of dust slowly building up on its solar panels, the heat and cold flexing its metal, and other key parameters to make the next generation of copters all the stronger. When the two new choppers, nicknamed SRH (sample return helicopters), arrive, they'll include new features as well, like a pinpoint landing system that allows them to pick up cached sample tubes.

Ingenuity's unexpectedly long lifespan has had ripple effects on the mission team, which at first was working to a "30-day sprint" on a limited flight plan, Tzanetos said. JPL engineers often work on multiple projects; after the five-flight primary mission ended, some elected to stay with the Ingenuity team, while others dropped to partial time or moved fully on to other things.

"I believe the team morale is great, especially now that we've grown significantly from that original technical team," Tzanetos said, noting that JPL makes sure its team members can take vacations and holidays. (Something on the order of a dozen full-time equivalent positions support Ingenuity, although those numbers are spread among more people given that not everyone is full-time on the project.)
It's hard to predict how long Ingenuity will continue to fly, although it remains in excellent health. The only potentially life-limiting consumables are leg dampers designed to soften each landing, but the loss of those "won't necessarily spell the end," as flight paths can be adapted to achieve soft touchdowns, Tzanetos said.

Ingenuity's lithium-ion batteries remain within about five millivolts of where they need to be, the solar panels remain relatively clear of dust thanks to the constant flying, and the team even has procedures in place to fly when Mars seasons change and the atmosphere thins, such as spinning the rotors a bit faster than usual.

Tzanetos emphasized that the team takes Ingenuity's work one flight at a time. Nonetheless, Flight 50 likely sparked a team party. "We're going to get together and celebrate the milestone," he said last month.

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Mars Memories...

#188 Post by OneHungLow » Thu Jun 01, 2023 5:55 pm

Sent to me by an old ops-normal stalwart....

The observer of fools in military south and north...

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Re: 3 For Mars

#189 Post by Ex-Ascot » Mon Jun 05, 2023 8:16 am

Very interesting OHL. Thank you and to our friend.
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Re: 3 For Mars

#190 Post by Wodrick » Mon Jun 05, 2023 8:25 am

Good Moaning,

21c - 26c later, cloudy 77% humidity.

After weeks working on the pool today.

Podologista for me at midday.

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Re: 3 For Mars

#191 Post by OneHungLow » Mon Jun 05, 2023 10:45 am

Ex-Ascot wrote:
Mon Jun 05, 2023 8:16 am
Very interesting OHL. Thank you and to our friend.
Thanks passed on Ex-Ascot.

As a South African I am very proud of my countryman (South African/Namibian) whose name was accorded to a feature adjacent to the helicopter deployment location. Jakob Van Zyl was an alumnus of Stellenbosch University. May he RIP, and his name be ever remembered on Earth and on Mars.

https://www.latimes.com/obituaries/stor ... sions-dies

Van Zyl.JPG
The location where NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will observe the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s attempt at powered controlled flight at Mars is called “Van Zyl Overlook,” after Jakob van Zyl. Van Zyl was the team’s longtime colleague, mentor, and leader at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. He passed away unexpectedly in August 2020, about a month after the launch of Perseverance.

Van Zyl joined JPL in 1986 and served in crucial roles at the Lab over a 33-year career, including as director for the Astronomy and Physics Directorate, associate director for project formulation and strategy, and finally director for the Solar System Exploration Directorate.

As leader of solar system exploration at JPL, he oversaw successful operations of such NASA missions as Juno, Dawn, and Cassini, the implementation of the Mars InSight lander and MarCO CubeSats, as well as ongoing development of Europa Clipper, Psyche, and all of JPL’s instruments and Ingenuity.
Credit
NASA/JPL-Caltech
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