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The persistent Mars is looking for a suitable landing spot for its rear

The persistent Mars is looking for a suitable landing spot for its rear

The motto is: the dimmer, the better.

The persistent Mars rover is searching for traces of (rotting) life. And in this endeavor, the thief Monsters in different places Mars rock. These samples are then stored in airtight titanium tubes that are captured during a future mission and then delivered back to Earth. Although this follow-up mission is still a long way off, Perseverance has already begun searching for a suitable landing spot.

The six-wheeled robot cart certainly does not stand still. In the meantime, he has already drilled, collected and sealed nine samples of Martian rock. The ninth sample taken a few days before persistence was the first from the ancient river delta at Jezero Crater.

Jezero Crater
Monsters are collected piece by piece in the huge Jezero Pit. However, scientists are particularly interested in the samples collected in the delta region of the crater. This is the part of the crater where billions of years ago – when Mars was still wet and humid – a river emptied into a crater lake. Ancient deltas may still be rich in clay minerals, and researchers are eager to obtain them, because such minerals may contain fossilized traces of microbial life, thus revealing whether Mars once harbored life.

The plan is for the rover to eventually drop all the collected sample tubes onto the surface. Then, these valuable samples will be collected during the planned period Mars sample returnA mission is captured and brought to Earth.

Mars sample return mission
This is the future Mars sample returnThe mission – which is likely to be launched by 2028 – promises to be a historic but complex one. The mission will consist of several vehicles, including a “fetch rover”, a rocket launched from the surface of Mars and an orbiter to safely drop collected samples back to Earth. It is necessary, of course, that the spacecraft deployed during Mars sample returnThe mission on the red planet will land, and arrive safely. This is an important task to persevere.

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Good place to land
Recently, the rover has started searching for a suitable landing site for the follow-up mission. It must meet some requirements. “Essentially, a boring landing site is a good thing,” explains Richard Cook, NASA program manager. “The flatter and dull it is, the better. Because while there is a lot to do when we get to Mars and catch monsters, sightseeing is not one of them.”

“While there is a lot to do when we get to Mars and collect samples, sightseeing is not one of them.”

the correct
Preference is given to a flat surface in a radius of 60 meters. And so perseverance hit the road. The rover has searched several points on the Red Planet to see if it is flat enough. In addition, there should not be large boulders in the vicinity, the team prefers a place without dunes and the terrain should, of course, not rise sharply.

spotted site
Perseverance has identified a promising site that meets these high standards. A place the team was already thinking about.

Perseverance used one of its navigational cameras to capture this panoramic image of a possible landing site suitable for the Mars sample return rover. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Our sights were on this location before Perseverance landed,” said team member Al Chen. But images from orbit around Mars don’t tell you everything. Now we have some closer pictures that show we were right. The place in question is likely to be on our shortlist of potential landing sites for Mars sample returnExpedition.”

The Mars sample returnThe mission is expected to revolutionize our understanding of Mars, studying carefully selected samples of the Red Planet using the most advanced instruments. Not only do scientists hope to learn more about the early evolution of our closest neighbour, the samples may also reveal whether Mars was once habitable and a haven for life. This is of course very interesting for several reasons, not least because the history of Mars would also expand our knowledge of all the rocky planets in the solar system, including Earth.

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