Three Ships Hit Mars To Make History

2021-02-07   |   by CusiGO

In the next few days, mankind will witness a historic moment when three robot missions come to Mars. They vie for a piece of glory and try to answer an eternal question: is there life on other planets or at some time?

The first spacecraft to enter the dim atmosphere of the red planet will be the hope, an atypical project led by the United Arab Emirates and developed in collaboration with American universities. It’s the first Mars spacecraft to be launched by an Arab country that wants to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Hope – hope in English – is scheduled to enter orbit on the red planet at 4:57 p.m. Tuesday, Peninsular time. Spain will be the first place on earth where successful or unsuccessful signals arrive, as the emirs use the deep space antenna installed by NASA at Robledo de chavela, 70 km from Madrid, as a communication center. The purpose of this orbital mission is to have a comprehensive understanding of Martian weather within one year.

The most spectacular moment will be a few days later, February 18, when the American mission begins to land on the surface of Mars, the largest ever launch to the red planet. In 70 years of space exploration, the United States is the only country that has successfully placed mobile vehicles on the cold surface of the red planet. One of every two Mars missions fails.

Jorge plagarc í a, a researcher at the center for Astrobiology in Madrid and a member of the MEDAS instrument at the US meteorological station, stressed, “this is the first time in history that there have been three Mars missions, each led by a country.” The third country is America’s biggest competitor inside and outside the earth: China; a booming space power, which has achieved landmark achievements in 20 years, while the Americans spent 40 years or more.

The landing of this mission will bring us something unique: the camera connected to the landing module will record the whole landing process, no matter what the final result is. There will also be microphones to record the sounds of Mars, an idea put forward by astronomer and science communicator Carl Sagan to NASA as early as 1996.

The most disturbing thing is that the huge task force of engineers and scientists may not be able to change the fate of the spacecraft and its mobile exploration vehicle: the whole landing process is automatic and controlled by the ship’s computer. Pla-garcia explained: “we’re talking about 500000 lines of code that identify all the steps, stages, dozens of pyrotechnic elements needed for an explosion, such as releasing cargo or getting out of a parachute. If there is only one failure, everything else may fail. ”

NASA defines the landing sequence in some dramatic way as “seven minute terror.”. This is the time it takes for a spacecraft to reach Mars at 21000 kilometers per hour. Its speed is lower than that of a human walking. All these are mainly braked by the friction of the earth’s atmosphere, which is about 100 times denser than the earth.

One of the key factors was the weather on Mars that day. Pla-garcia is a member of the planetary atmosphere group, which is responsible for predicting unpredictability: whether there will be dust storms in Jezero crater, the ultimate destination of the willpower Rover. “It’s clear today,” the scientist explained, “but we’ve been analyzing the area looking for air pockets that could mean changes in the storm’s density.” The Committee has been working on this since 2015. For six years, they have known the exact time when the Mars vehicle will arrive on the ground at 21:55, that is, the time of the Spanish peninsula.

One minute after entering the atmosphere, the spacecraft will reach the maximum temperature of 1600 degrees through the friction of the air, which will support its heat shield. After the parachute with a diameter of nearly 22 meters is deployed, a new device, TRN, will be put into use, just like a seven story building. It’s an AI system that takes pictures of the ground and “thinks” about what’s the best place to take pictures of the ground. At a distance of 21 meters from the ground, a crane will deploy a chain about 7 meters long and hang a lunar rover worth nearly 1 ton, with a total cost of more than 1.6 billion euros. If all goes well, its wheels will contact the ground at a speed of 3 kilometers per hour, and the crane will start the rocket to stay away from perseverance.

Among these missions, there is a reduced version of the paradox of space travel. The astronaut returns to earth and sees his children grow up. For him, it’s only four or five years. Radio signals from Mars travel at the speed of light, but it still takes 11 minutes to reach earth. This means that when the control center receives the start signal of the landing sequence, the rover has actually landed on Mars or has fallen down.

A few seconds after landing, the rover will take pictures of its surroundings. Fernando rull, a physicist at Valladolid University and a member of the supercam science team, explained that he would spend two or three weeks checking the equipment before starting a scientific operation, The latest instruments carrying the mission include a laser capable of evaporating rocks from a long distance and analyzing their chemical composition, and a Raman spectrometer never used on Mars.

Jezerro is a crater, and 3.5 billion years ago it was probably a paradise like landscape. A river flows in from one side and forms a huge lagoon. That was when life appeared on earth. Mars has the basic conditions to become a living planet, and may leave traces of past life forms in the clay of Jezero. Finding them will be a historic milestone, not just one pursued by the United States.

China will strive to become the first country to launch orbiters, landers and small mobile vehicles to Mars. This will be the first time China has carried out a mission on the red planet. Tianwen-1 mission is heading to the utopian plain in the northern hemisphere, which is an ideal place to try a soft landing. Because of its thin soil and low terrain, there is more atmosphere to slow down. There is also a huge underground ice water reservoir in the region, with a capacity of about 400 times that of all basins in Spain, which may be of strategic significance for future manned missions. The Chinese delegation will be on track on Wednesday. According to its original design, the orbital module is expected to continue to slowly approach the red planet while analyzing the best landing site. Scientists in charge of the mission explained that the car will not land until early May. If it succeeds, it will be the first day in history. The two superpowers competing for the hegemony of the earth will do the same on another planet in the solar system.

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