NASA’s new Mars rover launches from Florida to seek signs of past life

UNTV News   •   July 31, 2020   •   957

NASA’s next-generation Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Thursday (July 30) atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a $2.4 billion mission to search for traces of potential past life on Earth’s planetary neighbor.

The next-generation robotic rover – a car-sized six-wheeled scientific vehicle – also is scheduled to deploy a mini helicopter on Mars and test out equipment for future human missions to the fourth planet from the sun. It is expected to reach Mars next February.

It soared into the sky under clear, sunny and warm conditions carried by an Atlas 5 rocket from the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance. The launch took place after the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California where its mission engineers were located was rattled by an earthquake.

This marked NASA’s ninth journey to the Martian surface.

Perseverance is due to land at the base of an 820-foot-deep (250 meters) crater called Jezero, a former lake from 3.5 billion years ago that scientists suspect could bear evidence of potential past microbial life on Mars.

Scientists have long debated whether Mars – once a much more hospitable place than it is today – ever harbored life. Water is considered a key ingredient for life, and the Mars billions of years ago had lots of it on the surface before the planet became a harsh and desolate outpost.

One of the most complex maneuvers in Perseverance’s journey will be what mission engineers call the “seven minutes of terror,” when the robot endures extreme heat and speeds during its descent through the Martian atmosphere, deploying a set of supersonic parachutes before igniting mini rocket engines to gently touch down on the planet’s surface.

Aboard Perseverance is a four-pound (1.8 kg) autonomous helicopter named Ingenuity that is due to test powered flight on Mars for the first time.

This was scheduled as the third launch from Earth to Mars during a busy month of July, following probes sent by the United Arab Emirates and China. The state from which the rover was launched, Florida, is currently one of the hot spots in the United States for the coronavirus pandemic. (Reuters)

(Production: Kia Johnson)

Beachfront condo in Miami, Florida collapses; 1 confirmed dead

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 25, 2021

A beachfront condominium in Surfside, Miami, Florida collapsed early Friday (June 25), Philippine time. One has been confirmed dead and 11 were injured.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the number of casualties will still increase as several victims remain missing.

“As the sun sets on the most tragic day this community can remember we stand in solidarity once again to tell you we are working around the clock to search and rescue people in this rubble and we did identify and declare a safe 102 people and 99 we still cannot account for some of whom may not have been in the building,” she said.

The governor of Florida Ron DeSantis announced that he already signed an executive order to provide assistance to the families and community who were affected by the tragedy in Surfside.

DeSantis said the emergency response team will continue to assist and find missing victims. Meanwhile, authorities still have yet to report the cause of the collapse. AAC (with reports from Ruth De Mesa)

NASA’s Mars Helicopter makes historic first flight

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 20, 2021

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) made history after the successful flight of its Ingenuity Mars Helicopter  on another planet.

According to NASA, its Ingenuity team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California confirmed that the flight was a success after receiving data from the helicopter via NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover.

Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds.

JPL developed the guidance, navigation, and control systems running algorithms to pilot Ingenuity.

NASA associate administrator for Science, Thomas Zurbuchen announced that the team named the airfield, where the Ingenuity Helicopter traversed, as Wright Brothers Field as an homage to the two innovative bicycle makers.

“Now, 117 years after the Wright brothers succeeded in making the first flight on our planet, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has succeeded in performing this amazing feat on another world,” he said. AAC


NASA releases panorama of Mars taken by Perseverance rover

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 26, 2021

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released a 360-degree panoramic image of Mars taken by Perseverance Rover.

NASA said the newly released image reveals the crater, called Jezero Crater, rim and cliff face of an ancient river delta in the distance. It is composed of 142 images stitched together. The photos can aid scientists assess the geologic history and atmospheric conditions of Jezero Crater.

“The cameras also will help the mission team determine which rocks the rover should sample and collect for eventual return to Earth in the future,” according to NASA.

NASA said a key objective of Perseverance’s mission on Mars is to characterize the planet’s geology and past climate to pave the way for human exploration of the red planet. AAC


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