Cape Canaveral (USA): NASA is launching two extra mini helicopters to Mars in its effort to return Martian rocks and soil samples to Earth. Under the plan introduced on Wednesday, NASA’s Perseverance rover will do double obligation and transport the cache to the rocket that can launch them off the purple planet a decade from now. Perseverance has already gathered 11 samples with extra rock drilling deliberate. The most up-to-date pattern, a sedimentary rock, holds the best promise of containing doable proof of historical Martian life, stated Arizona State University’s Meenakshi Wadhwa, chief scientist for the retrieval effort.
“There’s a diversity of materials already in the bag, so to speak, and really excited about the potential for bringing these back,” she stated. If Perseverance breaks down, the 2 helicopters being constructed and launched later this decade would load the samples onto the rocket as a substitute.
The helicopters shall be modeled after NASA’s profitable Ingenuity, which has made 29 flights since arriving with Perseverance at Mars early final yr. The chopper weighs simply 4 kilos (1.8 kilograms). The new variations would have wheels and grappling arms.
NASA officers stated Perseverance’s spectacular efficiency at Mars prompted them to ditch their plan to launch a separate fetch rover. Jeff Gramling, director of NASA’s Mars pattern return program, stated the revised path ahead is easier. Each helicopter shall be designed to elevate one pattern tube at a time, making a number of journeys forwards and backwards. “We have confidence that we can count on Perseverance to bring the samples back and we’ve added the helicopters as a backup means,” Gramling stated.
NASA is collaborating with the European Space Agency on the retrieval mission. If all goes as deliberate, as many as 30 samples would blast off from Mars in 2031 and arrive at Earth in 2033. Lab evaluation is required to see whether or not any pattern holds indicators of microbial life that will have existed on Mars billions of years in the past when water flowed on the planet.
As for the grounded ExoMars rover, it can’t be refashioned to assist retrieve these samples, stated David Parker, director of human and robotic exploration for ESA. It was returned to storage after Russia and Europe lower ties with the undertaking due to the warfare in Ukraine. Russia was supposed to supply the rocket trip. “A decision on when the rover still can launch to Mars later this decade won’t come until late fall,” Parker stated.