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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 20 February, 2021

  • 12 Min Read

Perseverance - NASA’s mission to Mars

Perseverance - NASA’s mission to Mars

The shadow of NASA’s Perseverance rover is seen on the surface of Mars as it lands on the planet. With this, NASA is set to become the first space agency to fly a drone in the atmosphere of another planet.

Perseverance- NASA’s mission to Mars

  • NASA has been sending rovers on Mars since 1997 when the Mars Pathfinder Mission was initiated.
  • As the mission turned out to be successful, NASA decided to continue going to Mars to find evidence.
  • Second time, the space organization sent twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity to Mars in 2003.
  • The third attempt was by sending Curiosity in 2012.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched its Mars 2020 Perseverance rover aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V.
  • The launch took place from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
  • This is the third launch to Mars this month, following the UAE’s Hope and China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft.
  • Landing site: Jezero crater.
  • Perseverance is loaded with seven instruments chosen to help it achieve its mission objectives.

Why is this mission significant?

  • Perseverance will carry a unique instrument, MOXIE or Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment: which for the first time will manufacture molecular oxygen on Mars using carbon dioxide from the carbon-dioxide-rich atmosphere (ISRU means In Situ Resource Utilization: or the use of local resources to meet human needs or requirements of the spacecraft).
  • It will carry Ingenuity, the first ever helicopter to fly on Mars.
  • This is the first time NASA will fly a helicopter on another planet or satellite.
  • It is the planned first step to bring back rock samples from Mars for analysis in sophisticated laboratories on Earth: with the goal of looking for biosignatures: or signatures of present or past life.

These are some of the key mission objectives:

  • Look for signs of ancient microbial life.
  • Collect Martian rock and dust samples for later return to Earth.
  • Deliver an experimental helicopter.
  • Study the climate and geology of Mars.
  • Demonstrate technology for future Mars missions.

Other NASA Missions

NASA's Artemis Lunar Programme

  • It will return astronauts to the Moon for the first time in half a century including the first woman astronaut to moon.
  • Through Artemis, NASA aims to establish:
  • Sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028 to uncover new scientific discoveries.
  • Demonstrate new technological advancements.
  • Lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe

  • To explore Sun's outer atmospere - Corona.
  • To study Heliophysics = how Sun affects space and Environment of planets.
  • Before PSP Helios 2 was the closest. It will use Venus' gravity.
  • Uses: Help under what causes Solar wind/ flares. Increase our ability to predict space weather.

Helium Hydride ion (HeH+)

  • Scientists have detected Helium hydride ion (HeH+), the first molecule to be formed in our universe, for the first time ever.
  • It was detected by NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
  • It was detected in a planetary nebula, NGC 7027.
  • Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a Boeing 747SP aircraft modified to carry a 106-inch diameter telescope. It is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Centre.
  • Almost 14 billion years ago, after Big Bang when universe cooled down, ionised hydrogen and neutral helium atoms reacted to form HeH+. HeH+ reacted with neutral hydrogen and created molecular hydrogen, marking the beginning of star formation and modern universe. Scientists held that the chemistry of the universe began with HeH+.

NASA has selected a new mission Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) to be launched in 2022

  • It is attached to the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station.
  • It will investigate how waves in the lower atmosphere, caused by variations in the densities of different packets of air, impact the upper atmosphere.
  • The experiment will focus on colourful bands of light in Earth's atmosphere, called airglow, to determine what combination of forces drive space weather in the upper atmosphere.
  • Earlier it was thought that only Sun’s constant outflow of ultraviolet (UV) light and particles, solar wind, could affect airglow region. However, now researchers have learned that Earth’s weather also have effect on it.

NASA’s LCROSS

  • LCROSS stands for Lunar CRator Observation and Sensing Satellite mission which was carried 10 years ago.
  • It aimed to determine if water ice exists in Moon's South Pole. It found evidence of lunar soil in shadowy craters and it revealed moon has a water cycle and is chemically active.
  • It crashed on the Moon’s South Pole. Moon is important for minerals like Helium 6 and Water.

Source: TH


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