Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover

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NASA engineers hid secret code in Perseverance's parachute
NASA engineers hid secret code in Perseverance's parachute
Credit: @steltzner, via Twitter

NASA engineers have hidden a secret binary code on the parachute of its Perseverance rover that was solved by internet users six hours after its discovery. The seemingly random pattern of red-and-white stripes represents letters when read clockwise and reads: "Dare mighty things." Adam Steltzner, Perseverance's chief engineer, confirmed the secret message on Twitter, writing: "It looks like the internet has cracked the code in something like 6 hours! Oh internet is there anything you can’t do?"

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NASA releases new images from Mars by its Perseverance rover
"The moment that my team dreamed of for years, now a reality. Dare mighty things."
"The moment that my team dreamed of for years, now a reality. Dare mighty things." Credit: @NASAPersevere, via Twitter

NASA has released a set of images taken by its Perseverance rover on the surface of Mars. In one image captured from a satellite, the rover can be seen during its descent to Mars while the others show the surface of the red planet.

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NASA rover "Perseverance" has successfully landed on Mars
NASA rover "Perseverance" has successfully landed on Mars
Credit: Courtesy of Youtube / NASA

NASA's Perseverance rover successfully touched down on Mars Thursday afternoon, as part of one of the agency's most ambitious deep-space missions to search for signs of ancient life on the red planet.

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Nasa rover "Perseverance" to land on Mars - First helicopter flight on another planet
This illustration shows NASA’s Perseverance rover casting off its spacecraft’s cruise stage
This illustration shows NASA’s Perseverance rover casting off its spacecraft’s cruise stage Credit: NASA (Public Domain)

More than a century after the first motorized flight on Earth, such a maneuver is soon to take place on another planet for the first time. As part of the "Mars 2020" mission, the U.S. space agency Nasa plans to bring its Mars rover "Perseverance" together with the ultra-light helicopter "Ingenuity" to the Red Planet on Thursday (Feb. 18). There, "Ingenuity" is to fly through the Martian atmosphere. This is a particular challenge because the Martian atmosphere is only one percent as dense as the Earth's atmosphere.

"Ingenuity" is actually more like a drone. Nasa engineers had to make the mini-helicopter as light as possible so that it could take off in the extremely thin Martian atmosphere. It weighs just 1.8 kilograms and consists of four feet, a missile, and two propellers. The propellers rotate 2400 times per minute, about five times faster than a normal helicopter.

"Ingenuity" is expected to complete up to five flights over the surface of Mars. The aircraft can ascend up to five meters and fly up to 300 meters. However, the first test will cover a much shorter distance. Each flight can last up to one and a half minutes.

Since it takes about 20 minutes to transmit data from Mars to Earth, "Ingenuity" is not remotely controlled, but flies independently. Nasa issues only basic commands after which "Ingenuity" orients itself with a series of sensors. The results of the flights will not be available until some time later.

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Mars Rover Perseverance to Land on Mars on Feb 18
Mars Rover Perseverance to Land on Mars on Feb 18
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Perseverance is in its home stretch. NASA's Mars rover is scheduled to land on Mars on February 18, almost six months after it started its journey to the red planet.

"I am thrilled to be here today as our countdown to Mars winds down from months to just weeks. Perseverance is closing in on the Red Planet, and our team is preparing for her to touch down in Jezero Crater.," Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said.

After landing, Perseverance will search for ancient life on Mars on the floor of Jezero.

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Nasa has launched the Mars rover Perseverance to detect life on the Red Planet
Nasa has launched the Mars rover Perseverance to detect life on the Red Planet
Credit: Twitter Reproduction (Public Domain)

NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Cape Canaveral on Thursday atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a mission to search for traces of potential past life on Earth’s planetary neighbour. Perseverance was the third of three Mars missions to launch in the space of just ten days, after the United Arab Emirates’ Mars Hope orbiter, and China’s Tianwen-1.

The six-wheeled rover is on a path to intercept Mars in February next year, and when it lands, the Nasa robot will also gather rock and soil samples to be sent home later this decade.

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The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is scheduled for July 30th launch date
The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (Public Domain)

Soon it will be "go for launch" for Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. On July 30, NASA's new Mars rover will go on its seven-month-long journey to the Red Planet. The launch had been postponed a couple of times because of technical difficulties and setbacks related to COVID-19.

Perseverance will land in Jezero Crater where it will search for "signs that microbes might have lived on Mars long ago, collect soil samples to be returned to Earth on a future mission and pave the way for human exploration beyond the Moon."

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Mars rover delayed again, launch no earlier than end of July
In this image, taken on June 13, 2019, engineers at JPL install the starboard legs and wheels — otherwise known as the mobility suspension — on the Mars 2020 rover.
In this image, taken on June 13, 2019, engineers at JPL install the starboard legs and wheels — otherwise known as the mobility suspension — on the Mars 2020 rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The launch of NASA's next Mars rover has been delayed once again. This time the delay is due to "a liquid oxygen sensor line presented off-nominal data during the wet dress rehearsal, and additional time is needed for the team to inspect and evaluate." NASA expects the rover to launch no earlier than July 30.

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Another delay in launch of NASA's Mars rover Perseverance
In a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA's Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019.
In a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA's Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech / Public domain

Perseverance's launch has been delayed by two days to July 22. The announcement came after engineers found issues with ground support equipment but both the spacecraft and vehicle "remain healthy."

In an official statement, the agency wrote: "NASA and United Launch Alliance are now targeting Wednesday, July 22, for launch of the Mars 2020 mission due to a processing delay encountered during encapsulation activities of the spacecraft. Additional time was needed to resolve a contamination concern in the ground support lines in NASA’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF)."