NASA’s InSight spacecraft may have landed on Mars in 2018, but the rovers and orbiters studying the Red Planet concentrated on its surface still provide valuable data today. More specifically, the stationary lander’s seismometer, which gives us the first details on the depth and composition of Mars’ crust, mantle, as well as core, including confirmation that the planet’s center is molten. Read more for two videos and additional information.
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is making final preparations to collect its first-ever Martian rock sample, which will be transported back to Earth on future planned missions. It’s currently searching for a scientifically interesting target in a part of Jezero Crater called the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough,” and the mission is expected to begin within the next two weeks. Read more for two videos and additional information.
China’s Zhurong Mars rover has officially traveled more than 509-meters (1670-feet) on the Martian surface as of 11pm on Saturday (July 17th), and during its journey, the parachute it used during landing was spotted. The rover is expected to arrive at the second sand dune on its journey and proceed to carry out a detailed survey of the formation as well as the surrounding environment. Read more for a video and additional information.
China’s Zhurong rover has just sent back video of its descent, which includes footage of thesupersonic disk-gap-band parachute, as well as the sounds of Mars. The solar-powered 530-pound vehicle is currently surveying an area of the Red Planet known as Utopia Planitia, scouring it for signs of water or ice that could provide clues as to whether Mars ever sustained life. Zhurong is set to move and stop in slow intervals, with each interval estimated to be just 33-feet over the course of three days. Read more for two videos and additional information.
No, the selfies you see of NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover with the Ingenuity Helicopter are not computer-generated, just taken in a very clever way. How so? The selfie required the work of a dozen people, including rover drivers, engineers who ran tests at JPL, and camera operations engineers who developed the camera sequence, processed the images, as well as stitched them together. Before it even happened, it took the team around a week to plot out all the individual commands required. Read more for a video and additional information.
China has already revealed a roadmap for its upcoming crewed missions to Mars, but they may have something else planned that seems to be straight out of a science fiction movie: a Sky Ladder. Simply put, this space elevator of sorts aims to help transport humans and cargo to the Red Planet at a fraction of what it would normally cost. Read more for a video on space elevators and additional information.
When it lands on Mars, SpaceBok will become the first powered four-legged robot to traverse the Red Planet. This quadruped robot was designed and built by a Swiss student team from ETH Zurich and ZHAW Zurich, with testing currently taking place using robotic facilities at ESA’s ESTEC technical center in the Netherlands. Unlike other robots that use at least three legs stay on the ground at all times, dynamic walking allows for gaits with full flight phases during which all legs stay off the ground. Read more for two videos and additional information.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has just released the first images captured by their Zhurong Mars rover, including a panorama of the landing site, Martian topography / landforms, the landing platform, as well as a selfie with the landing platform. These images marks a complete success of China’s first Mars exploration mission. In the panorama, you can see lots of different-sized rocks in the landing site indicating a good autonomous site selection. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter has successfully completed its seventh flight and second within its operations demo phase. It flew for approximately 62.8 seconds and traveled 348-feet south to a new landing spot, snapping several black-and-white navigation photos during flight. The original plan was to retire Ingenuity at the end of April by flying it so high and far that it would crash, but after several successful flights, the plan has changed. Read more for a video and additional information.
During the sixth flight of NASA’s Ingenuity, which was designed to expand the flight envelope and demonstrate aerial-imaging capabilities by taking stereo images of a region of interest to the west, the helicopter nearly crashed. It was commanded to climb to an altitude of 33-feet before translating 492-feet to the southwest at a ground speed of 9 mph, but toward the end of that leg, something happened. Read more for a video and additional information.