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Three countries are due to reach Mars in the next two weeks

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Old February 15th 21, 03:19 AM posted to alt.astronomy
John Locke[_3_]
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Default Three countries are due to reach Mars in the next two weeks

On Sat, 6 Feb 2021 13:08:52 -0800, a425couple


Three countries are due to reach Mars in the next two weeks
A Martian marathon with the UAE, China, and NASA

By Joey Roulette Feb 5, 2021, 1:17pm EST

A fleet of spacecraft from three countries will reach Mars in February.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
A small fleet of spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates, China, and
the United States will reach Mars this month after launching from Earth
last year. The march to the Red Planet marks a marathon of firsts: it’s
the UAE’s first foray into deep space, China’s first independent attempt
to land on Mars, and NASA’s first shot at deploying a Martian helicopter.

The rare convoy of Mars-bound spacecraft launched off Earth in a slim,
roughly two-month window last summer when Earth and Mars lined up just
right in their orbits around the Sun. This planetary alignment only
happens once every two years, and three countries took advantage of it
in 2020, just as outer space reemerged as a playground for scientific
discovery and displays of national power.

“These governments do these missions for the sake of exploration,” Bill
Nye, CEO of the Planetary Society (and famously, The Science Guy), told
The Verge. “As we like to say, there is no business case for exploring
the Martian regolith.”

“However, it leads to this extraordinary workforce development in these
countries, and this national pride and sense of community that’s
priceless,” he said.

First in line to reach Mars this month is the Emirati Hope orbiter.
After launching seven months ago on a Japanese H-IIA rocket, the
car-sized Hope probe will arrive in Mars’ orbit on February 9th. It will
spend nearly two years surveying the planet’s atmosphere to study daily
changes in Martian weather. It puts the UAE on track to be the first
Arab nation to deploy an interplanetary probe and join a small group of
spacefaring countries that have done the same.

“For the science community, it’s where things start,” Sarah al-Amiri,
the deputy project manager for the Emirates Mars Mission, said of Hope’s
injection into Mars orbit in an interview. The week Hope reaches Mars
orbit, UAE researchers will begin to analyze their first trove of
interplanetary data, al-Amiri said.

For about six years, Hope’s mission team of roughly 450 people have been
designing and testing the Hope spacecraft. The program has a $200
million budget from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and has been
working with teams at the University of Colorado Boulder, Arizona State
University, and the University of California, Berkeley.

As the UAE looks to wean itself off oil dependence, the Hope mission
presents a broader opportunity for the country. It’s a chance to figure
out how to start a new industry from scratch. “When we say, for example,
we’re going to establish a new sector in biotech, how do you go about
doing that? This mission provided us a mechanism to go about doing that
when we haven’t had it before,” al-Amiri said.

Trailing behind the UAE’s Hope probe is China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft,
which will reach Mars a day later on February 10th. The five-ton
spacecraft will hang out in Martian orbit to survey the Utopia Planitia
region, where a large deposit of water ice lies beneath the planet’s
surface. Three months later, in May, Tianwen-1 will deploy a lander and
rover bundled together for a landing at Utopia Planitia — a daring
attempt to become the second country to land and operate a rover on the
Martian surface.

The first image of Mars captured by China’s Tianwen-1 probe on February
5th, 2021. Photo: China National Space Administration
Tianwen-1 translates to “questions to heaven” or “questioning the
heavens.” The rover carries a suite of instruments to detect deposits of
subsurface water ice, which scientists believe could hold signs of
microbial life. By observing Mars from orbit and deploying both a lander
and a rover, the mission “will become the world’s first Mars expedition
accomplishing all three goals with one probe,” Ye Peijian, a top
scientist at the China Academy of Space Technology, said in a statement.

Later this month, China’s Tianwen-1 rover will get some company on the
planet’s surface. NASA’s Perseverance rover, nicknamed “Percy,” will
touch down on February 18th at the Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient
river delta believed to bear traces of past life. Its touchdown location
is some 1,600 miles away from China’s rover (about the distance between
Miami and upstate New York). It’s NASA’s ninth mission to the Martian
surface. Like any robot destined for a Mars landing, Perseverance will
endure the infamous “seven minutes of terror” — a blazing dash through
Mars’ atmosphere for a fully automated soft landing. To mission
managers, it’s akin to taking your hands off the steering wheel of a
$2.4 billion car.

In that sliver of time, the spacecraft will need to use a combo of
parachutes and four propulsive engines to slow itself down from 12,100
mph at the top of Mars’ atmosphere to complete stillness on the Martian
surface. A 14-minute communication delay between Mars and Earth means
Perseverance’s wicked descent to the Jezero Crater — an unpredictable
territory with cliffs, vast sand dunes, and large boulder fields — must
be fully automated. By the time mission engineers at NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory get word that Perseverance entered Mars’
atmosphere at around 3:48PM ET, the rover will have already made it to
the surface — or crashed on impact.

“These men and women have invested years - YEARS - of their lives into
those seven minutes. It’s a big doggone deal,” Nye said. “And you don’t
know what’s going on on Mars for those seven minutes.”

If all goes well, the compact car-sized Perseverance will use its six
wheels to spend at least two years traversing the Jezero Crater, using
seven instruments to probe for traces of past or present lifeforms.
Those tools include a UV laser to scan for organic compounds, an X-ray
spectrometer to analyze the chemical composition of Mars rocks, and two
microphones to monitor the rover’s health and record the windy ambiance
of Mars. The rover will also gather cigar-sized samples of Martian soil
for a future sample return mission in the works between NASA and the
European Space Agency.

The most ambitious piece of hardware aboard Perseverance is a box-shaped
helicopter called Ingenuity, whose test flight “could result in the
Martian equivalent of a Wright Brothers moment,” said Thomas Zurbuchen,
NASA’s associate administrator for the science mission directorate.
Deploying from the rover’s belly, Ingenuity will attempt to fly in Mars’
ultra-thin atmosphere. If it is successful, it may mark the first
demonstration of vertical rotorcraft on another world. “If the
helicopter succeeds its first flight, the Ingenuity team will attempt up
to four other test flights within a 30-Martian-day (31-Earth-day)
window,” Zurbuchen said.

While each mission has its own individual milestones, the fleet of
spacecraft is collectively opening a new era in Mars exploration. With
the arrival of these missions, the hunt for signs of off-world life is
in full force. UAE, China, and NASA are all racing to gain a better
understanding of a world believed to have held life at some point in the
distant past or possibly in the present. With Tianwen-1 analyzing
potential subsurface lockers of ancient life, Hope scanning the Martian
atmosphere, and Perseverance scooping up dirt samples for retrieval, an
answer could come soon, Nye said.

“What are the chances that someday evidence of life will be found
there?” Nye said. “Very high.”

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....pretty amazing. Back if the 50s when I was a kid, this stuff would
have been pure science fiction.

I'd rather have questions that can't be answered then answers that
can't be questioned.- Richard Feynman

Old February 15th 21, 03:39 AM posted to alt.astronomy
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Posts: 3,068
Default Three countries are due to reach Mars in the next two weeks

On Sunday, February 14, 2021 at 7:19:37 PM UTC-8, John Locke wrote:

...pretty amazing. Back if the 50s when I was a kid, this stuff would
have been pure science fiction.

As a fellow child of the 50's I will agree 100%!
Old February 19th 21, 02:45 AM posted to alt.astronomy
external usenet poster
Posts: 39
Default Three countries are due to reach Mars in the next two weeks

On Mon, 15 Feb 2021 18:21:51 +0100, Luigi Caselli wrote:
Some days ago I watched again the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey".
Great movie but I felt so sad thinking that in 2020 we are still on
Earth or nearby.
A friend of mine told me: "Space is for probes not for humans, we have
too many limitations, both physical and psychological, for long space
I'm afraid he's right...

Stanley Kubrick was born to Jacob Leonard & Sadie Gertrude Perveler-
Kubrick at Society for the Lying-In Hospital 305 2nd Ave. (73W59:01,
40N44:05) Manhattan New York, NY, on Thursday July 26, 1928 (AA/BR).


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