October 4, 2022

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Perseverance will go to the enchanted lake, but there is a problem | Updates from Mars

Those who have closely followed our specials on the motions of perseverance and creativity on Mars will remember that in April the rover crossed an area on the front of the river delta and named it Enchanted Lake. No attempt was made to collect samples because after careful evaluation the team in charge decided to avoid the operation at the time, but with a promise to return. How is that? The enchanted lake has some really interesting geological featuresas you will soon discover.

And so NASA decided to have the rover track its steps, but before it left there was a potential “cleanup” problem to be resolved. Read on to find out more.







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May 07


sedimentary rocks of the enchanted lake


The image of the outcrop you see above was taken from one of the rover’s hazard-avoidance cameras on April 30, 2022. Enchanted Lake takes its name from a place in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve.

Of particular interest The stratified sedimentary rocks that make up the areawhich was assembled over time from deposition of mud, silt and sand that was brought into the lake that filled Jezero crater, then underwent slow compaction and solidification into thin layers that are still visible today.

If, by chance, in that period of vigorous geological activity, microorganisms were found, perhaps during the formation of sedimentary rocks, it goes without saying that they could have been captured within the strata to remain frozen over time as fossilized life forms. Hence the rocks of the enchanted lake layers Could it contain evidence that Mars once harbored microscopic life?

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NASA likely didn’t want to give up, and so decided it was time to follow in its footsteps and conduct a more in-depth investigation. The voyage to Enchanted Lake is expected to begin in the next few days with an expected arrival in early September.

Still piling in the drilling system


But before the journey begins these days, work is underway to check whether or not some debris, which is present in the persistence drilling system, could be a problem. This is not the first time that rock fragments have entered the sampling system and are fixed inside.

Latest two shards Found after the 12th batch of the sample, dated August 5. Analysis of the latest images sent back to Earth by the rover indicates that while the two small pieces remain visible at the top of the drill spindle, no new external elements have been observed. In doubt, NASA conducted various diagnostic activities and instructed the tenacity to perform small motions, lateral displacements, controlled vibrations of the controllable components, and in general, shake the tools as much as possible in order to get rid of any foreign component.

As it happened in January, NASA decided to take some time to see whether or not to clean up the interior of the core drilling system. Mars is a dusty planet and it is normal for a complex core drilling system such as the Perseverance system, capable of drilling and fragmenting rocks, or containing alien fragments to get dirty: NASA clearly took this into account in the development stage and with time, the problem will become more and more felt. However, caution is never too much when it is impossible to manually interfere with the site!

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Once you make sure that the perseverance can go smoothly, the trip to Enchanted Lake will continue.

Gravity completes flight number 30


After a break of more than two months, the Mars mini helicopter Creativity flew again and did it for the thirtieth time. It was a small test flight, and it seemed like more of a leap than a real one, but it apparently helped the engineering team to better assess the health of the helicopter and better monitor battery and instrument parameters. The movement was similar to the movement of the first flights, that is, with a lateral movement of 2-4 m and a relative return to the starting point.

Not only that, it served the flight as well Get rid of some dust and sand from the blades and solar panels, in a way that avoids energy loss and deterioration of the cells’ charging capacity. The operation took place on August 23, and at the moment we only have the first photo that can be seen above and taken by NavCam during the flight. Everything was supposed to go smoothly and in the next few days there may be new low-resolution and high-resolution images, taken from the main unit.

We have chosen to fly a bit and keep the heating capabilities of key components at optimum levels because at this time in Jezero crater it is still winter and at night temperatures drop to -86°C. The stored solar energy may not be enough for all activities, including flights, so you decide to wait a while to get enough charge. But in those two months, the Ingenuity didn’t stop completely, as a high-speed spinning operation took place on August 15, bringing the rotor system to 2,573 rpm for several seconds. A constant maneuver afterwards, but again necessary to clean the dust blades and solar panels.

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So we can unbalance ourselves by saying that, against all odds, Ingenuity’s support work will continue to persevere until the helicopter comes alive, and as we predicted a few weeks ago, a more advanced version of it could also become a future protagonist. The sample retrieval mission is called Mars Sample Return.