NASA on Monday released the first high-quality video of a spacecraft landing on Mars, a three-minute trailer showing the enormous orange and white parachute hurtling open and the red dust kicking up as rocket engines lowered the rover to the surface.
The footage was so good — and the images so breathtaking — that members of the rover team said they felt like they were riding along.
“It gives me goose bumps every time I see it, just amazing,” said Dave Gruel, head of the entry and descent camera team.
The Perseverance rover landed last Thursday near an ancient river delta in Jezero Crater to search for signs of ancient microscopic life. After spending the weekend binge-watching the descent and landing video, the team at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, shared the video at a news conference.
“These videos and these images are the stuff of our dreams," said Al Chen, who was in charge of the landing team.
This composite image made available by NASA, produced from photos captured Feb. 20, 2021 by the Perseverance Mars rover, shows the surface of Mars. It landed on Thursday, Feb. 18. (NASA/AP)
Six off-the-shelf color cameras were devoted to entry, descent and landing, looking up and down from different perspectives. All but one camera worked. The lone microphone turned on for landing failed, but NASA got some snippets of sound after touchdown: the whirring of the rover’s systems and wind gusts.
Flight controllers were thrilled with the thousands of images beamed back — and also with the remarkably good condition of NASA's biggest and most capable rover yet. It will spend the next two years exploring the dry river delta and drilling into rocks that may hold evidence of life 3 billion to 4 billion years ago. The core samples will be set aside for return to Earth in a decade.
NASA added 25 cameras to the $3 billion mission — the most ever sent to Mars. The space agency's previous rover, 2012's Curiosity, managed only jerky, grainy stop-motion images, mostly of terrain. Curiosity is still working. So is NASA's InSight lander, although it's hampered by dusty solar panels.
They may have company in late spring, when China attempts to land its own rover, which went into orbit around Mars two weeks ago.
Deputy project manager Matt Wallace said he was inspired several years ago to film Perseverance's harrowing descent when his young gymnast daughter wore a camera while performing a backflip.
Some of the spacecraft systems — like the sky crane used to lower the rover onto the Martian surface — could not be tested on Earth.
“So this is the first time we’ve had a chance as engineers to actually see what we designed,” Wallace told reporters.
Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s science mission chief, said the video and also the panoramic views following touchdown “are the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit.”\
The images will help NASA prepare for astronaut flights to Mars in the decades ahead, according to the engineers.
There's a more immediate benefit.
“I know it's been a tough year for everybody,” said imaging scientist Justin Maki, “and we're hoping that maybe these images will help brighten people's days.”
After beating bone cancer, Hayley Arceneaux figures rocketing into orbit on SpaceX’s first private flight should be a piece of cosmic cake.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital announced Monday that the 29-year-old physician assistant — a former patient hired last spring — will launch later this year alongside a billionaire who’s using his purchased spaceflight as a charitable fundraiser.
Arceneaux will become the youngest American in space — beating NASA record-holder Sally Ride by over two years — when she blasts off this fall with entrepreneur Jared Isaacman and two yet-to-be-chosen contest winners.
She’ll also be the first to launch with a prosthesis. When she was 10, she had surgery at St. Jude to replace her knee and get a titanium rod in her left thigh bone. She still limps and suffers occasional leg pain, but has been cleared for flight by SpaceX. She’ll serve as the crew’s medical officer.
“My battle with cancer really prepared me for space travel,” Arceneaux said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It made me tough, and then also I think it really taught me to expect the unexpected and go along for the ride.”
She wants to show her young patients and other cancer survivors that “the sky is not even the limit anymore.”
“It’s going to mean so much to these kids to see a survivor in space,” she said.
Isaacman announced his space mission Feb. 1, pledging to raise $200 million for St. Jude, half of that his own contribution. As the flight’s self-appointed commander, he offered one of the four SpaceX Dragon capsule seats to St. Jude.
Without alerting the staff, St. Jude chose Arceneaux from among the “scores” of hospital and fundraising employees who had once been patients and could represent the next generation, said Rick Shadyac, president of St. Jude’s fundraising organization.
Arceneaux was at home in Memphis, Tennessee, when she got the “out of the blue” call in January asking if she’d represent St. Jude in space.
Her immediate response: “Yes! Yes! Please!” But first she wanted to run it past her mother in St. Francisville, Louisiana. (Her father died of kidney cancer in 2018.) Next she reached out to her brother and sister-in-law, both of them aerospace engineers in Huntsville, Alabama, who “reassured me how safe space travel is.”
A lifelong space fan who embraces adventure, Arceneaux insists those who know her won’t be surprised. She’s plunged on a bungee swing in New Zealand and ridden camels in Morocco. And she loves roller-coasters.
Isaacman, who flies fighter jets for a hobby, considers her a perfect fit.
“It’s not all supposed to be about getting people excited to be astronauts someday, which is certainly cool,” Isaacman, 38, said last week. “It’s also supposed to be about an inspiring message of what we can accomplish here on Earth."
He has two more crew members to select, and he plans to reveal them in March.
One will be a sweepstakes winner; anyone donating to St. Jude this month is eligible. So far, more than $9 million has come in, according to Shadyac. The other seat will go to a business owner who uses Shift4Payments, Isaacman’s Allentown, Pennsylvania, credit card-processing company.
Liftoff is targeted around October at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, with the capsule orbiting Earth two to four days. He’s not divulging the cost.
The world got its first close-up look at a Mars landing on Friday, as NASA released a stunning picture of its newest rover being lowered onto the dusty red surface.
The photo was released less than 24 hours after the Perseverance rover successfully touched down near an ancient river delta, where it will search for signs of ancient life and set aside the most promising rock samples for return to Earth in a decade.
NASA equipped the spacecraft with a record 25 cameras and two microphones, many of which were turned on during Thursday’s descent.
The rover is shown in extraordinary detail just 6 1/2 feet (2 meters) off the ground, being lowered by cables attached to an overhead sky crane, the red dust kicked up by rocket engines. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, promises more photos in the next few days and possibly also an audio recording of the descent.
“This is something that we’ve never seen before,” flight system engineer Aaron Stehura noted at a news conference. “It was stunning, and the team was awestruck. There’s just a feeling of victory that we were able to capture these and share it with the world.”
Chief engineer Adam Steltzner called the picture “iconic," putting it right up there with photos of Apollo 11's Buzz Aldrin on the moon, Saturn as seen by Voyager 1, and the Hubble Space Telescope's “pillars of creation” shot.
A number of thumbnail images have been beamed down so far, too many to count, said Pauline Hwang, strategic mission manager for surface operations. “The team went wild” at seeing these first pictures, she said.
The picture is so clear and detailed that deputy project scientist Katie Stack Morgan at first thought she was looking at a photo from an animation. “Then I did a double take and said: `That's the actual rover!' ”
The vehicle is healthy, according to officials, after landing on a flat, safe surface in Jezero Crater with just 1 degree of tilt and relatively small rocks nearby. For now, the systems still are being checked. It will be at least a week before the rover starts driving.
The river delta — awash 3 billion to 4 billion years ago — is just over 1 mile (2 kilometers) away. Scientists consider it the most likely place to find rocks with evidence of past microscopic life.
Another photo of Perseverance's front right wheel, near rocks full of holes, already has scientists salivating. They're eager to learn whether these rocks are volcanic or sedimentary.
It's the ninth time that NASA has successfully landed on Mars __ and the fifth rover.
As it did with 2012's Curiosity rover — still roaming 2,300 miles (3,750 kilometers) away — NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter photographed Perseverance descending beneath its massive parachute. In each case, the spacecraft and chute resembled specks.
Curiosity's cameras caught a stop-motion movie of the last two minutes its descent, but the images were small and fuzzy. NASA loaded up the heftier Perseverance and its descent stage with more and better cameras, and made sure they were turned on for the entire seven-minute plunge through the Martian atmosphere.
China will attempt to land its own much smaller rover in late spring. It’s been orbiting Mars for 1 1/2 weeks. The United Arab Emirates also put a spacecraft into Martian orbit last week.
What if you could charge your mobile phone without conventional electricity, but with a bottle of hot water instead? Space thermoelectric technology could soon make this sustainable solution a reality.
Thermoelectric devices are made from materials that can convert a temperature difference into electricity. Previous researches have suggested that thermoelectric devices can harvest wasted heat and produce electrical energy to back up the battery on spacecraft.
Chinese scientists are now hoping to take advantage of space thermoelectric technology to benefit people's daily life.
Researchers at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, one of the country's rocket makers, have developed a type of insulated water bottle equipped with a thermoelectric chip that can turn water heat into electricity to charge a mobile phone.
As mobile phones have gotten more powerful processors and larger touch screen interfaces, their power requirement has correspondingly increased. However, people often face the problem of charging their phones, especially when traveling on trains or camping in mountains, said lead researcher Ma Wei.
"Our solution to this problem is a water bottle-based thermoelectric device, a heat source to generate electricity," Ma said, adding that the invention does not require any electrical sources.
A demonstration video showed that the thermoelectric device was embedded in the bottle cap, which has a USB charging port on it. When a researcher connected an iPhone to the bottle with a cable, the battery icon on the screen appeared green with a lightning bolt indication in the middle.
"We have found that the water bottle can provide 20 to 30 minutes of electricity after we poured 300 to 500 milliliters of boiling water into it," said Sheng Jiang, a member of the research team.
The bottle can also provide electricity for laptops, cameras and other low-power household appliances.
Also read: Best Upcoming Phones 2021
Researchers are now seeking to forge cooperation with enterprises to market the concept. The product is likely to be priced from 150 yuan (about 23 US dollars) to 200 yuan.
A thermoelectric chip might make the bottle 200 grams heavier than the same size product on the market, but Sheng said it would be easy to carry as researchers have reduced the bottle weight by the use of a light heat insulation material, originally created for spacecraft, to replace stainless steel container.
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Emphasising the safety of the invention, Sheng said it produces low voltage and has no risk of short circuit.
Scientists at Shahjalal University of Science & Technology (SUST) have sequenced the genome of the Novel Coronavirus found in 2 districts of Sylhet division, Vice Chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed disclosed at a press briefing Tuesday.
As part of a research project, COVID-19 samples were collected from different areas of 4 districts in Sylhet, to sequence their genome and study how the virus is mutating in the region, besides its spread, origins and variants. From them 10 genome sequences of the area were submitted to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Database (GISAID), which published them on 31st December, 2020.
According to the analysis, similarities with Italy, UK, USA, Finland, Germany, Russia, and a previously found strain in Bangladesh was detected in the Sylhet samples. Any UK mutant (P681H) was not found but a variant (P681R) with a different mutation in the same position was found. Another completely new mutation (Genome: 27862: Del: ATCAT ) was found in the genome of 2 viruses.
"As the Coronavirus spread was increasing, SUST’s Genetic & Biotechnology Department of Life Sciences faculty established the self-financed specialized COVID-19 detection lab where a team of researchers voluntarily started detecting the disease. Along with that, the team started researching the virus, financed by SUST research center," it was announced at the press briefing.
Also read: Sylhet coronavirus cases reach 9,369
In addition, the specialized lab was founded last May spending Tk 1,10,00,000 from SUST's own fund to fight the Coronavirus spread. Currently a team of 25 members work in the lab everyday led by Professor Shamsul Haque Prodhan, head of Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology dept. of the varsity.