NASA has captured an image of the Mars Perseverance Rover that shows it as a white dot against the vast empty terrain of the Red Planet as it prepares for a much-needed rest.
Using the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA captured the rover as it made its way through the Séítah area south of the Jezero crater of Mars.
The Rover made history on September 3 by successfully drilling the first rock core taken from a Martian rock. This was quickly followed by collecting a second sample just four days later. The samples will be stored by the Perseverance rover pending a joint NASA and European Space Agency sample collection and return mission.
Unfortunately, the Rover will have to wait a bit before collecting more rock core samples. All Martian missions are currently preparing to hibernate while awaiting further orders from their operators here on Earth.
This interruption of activity, which will run from October 2 to 16, is necessary as Mars moves from the opposite side of the Sun to Earth, a period known as the Martian solar conjunction, which occurs every two Earth years.
During this period, the hot ionized gas from our star’s crown interferes with radio signals sent from Earth to Mars.
“During the solar conjunction, when Earth and Mars cannot ‘see’ each other, this gas can interfere with radio signals if engineers attempt to communicate with the spacecraft on Mars,” NASA agents said in a report. Press release. “It could corrupt the controls and lead to unexpected behavior from our deep space explorers.”
On Perseverance’s Twitter thread, the rover described its position between the sand dunes of South Séítah and a rocky outcrop. The pause period, which could be extended by a day or two depending on the angle between Earth and Mars, will not however be marked by total inactivity.
The rover will monitor Martian weather with Mars’ environmental dynamics analyzer, MEDA. Its cameras will monitor the effects of winds blowing dust devils on the surface of Mars, while its microphones will listen for new sounds.
“Although our missions to Mars are not as active in the coming weeks, they will still let us know their state of health,” Roy Gladden said in a press release, head of the Mars Relay Network at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. in Southern California. Release. “Each mission was given homework to do until they heard from us again.”
While the Perseverance Rover waits in Jezero crater for further orders, its fellow Mars missions have also selected their resting places. The Ingenuity Mars helicopter is grounded just 575 feet from the rover, updating Perseverance on its status every week.
From its resting place in Gale Crater, where it landed in 2012, Perseverance’s Curiosity rover will also monitor Martian weather. On top of that, Curiosity will also be tracking radiation levels on the Red Planet.
The InSight lander, which monitors Martian seismic activity and searches for earthquakes, is stationary anyway, so it won’t be significantly affected by the Martian solar conjunction. He will continue to use his seismometer to monitor seismic activity on the planet.
While the shutdown is in place, the flow of raw images that Perseverance and her colleagues sent back to Earth will also stop, and the data collected during this break will be uploaded before operations resume normally, a process that it may expect. – even take a while. the week.
The three orbiters surrounding Mars, Odyssey, MAVEN and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will continue to return images and data to operators here on Earth for these two weeks.
The main mission of Perseverance is the characterization of Martian geology and its climatic history, as well as the search for traces of ancient life on the red planet. This mission will pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet in the future.