After 8 years of hard work, on February 18th, NASA landed the Rover on Mars at the bottom of the deep valley. Named Perseverance, rover will search for signs of microbial life. Rover’s landing zone is assumed to be a riverbed that may indicate signs of life. Rover will collect rock core samples in metal tubes. Future missions will return these samples to Earth for extensive study.
Perseverance journey to Mars took seven months and about 300 million miles (480 million kilometers). Perseverance was launched on July 30 2020 and multiple trajectory corrections maneuvers were made to point the rover to the bottom of the deep valley. Perseverance’s Route to Mars is shown below.
Leading the NASA Rover Landing is Swathi Mohan, the guidance, navigation and control operations lead, and mission commentator for the Perseverance project. She has been working on Perseverance for 8 years and flying the Rover for last seven months. “Perseverance will be the first mission to fly terrain-relative navigation so while she is descending on the parachute she will be actually at the ground with a camera, seeing where she is with respect to the Martian surface, and choosing a safe spot to land”, said Swathi Mohan. Terrain-Relative Navigation captures photos of the Mars terrain in real time and compares them with onboard maps of the landing area, autonomously directing the rover to divert around known hazards and obstacles as needed.
Landing test can be seen here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaVTxc8uxOw&feature=emb_logo
Another major accomplishment in this mission is to test the first powered flight on Mars, aka Mars helicopter. Vaneeza Rupani, an 11th grader from Northport Alabama was bestowed the honor to name the helicopter. She submitted her essay into NASA’s “Name the Rover” contest and was chosen among 28,000 essays and named the helicopter Ingenuity. Ingenuity team was led by Dr Bob Balaram. A Principal member of Technical Staff at JPL robotics. Mars has very little atmosphere, only around 1% of Earths. “Flying this kind of helicopter is equivalent to flying a similar helicopter on Earth at a hundred thousand feet” said Dr. Bob Balaram. Helicopter was built using Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and Linux operating system and has a high resolution downward-looking camera for navigation, landing, and science surveying of the terrain, and a communication system to relay data to the Perseverance rover.
Kudos to Indian diaspora to assist in this monumental task of finding life on Mars!!!
Onwards to Mars!!
Mars Landing - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gm0b_ijaYMQ
Mars Mission team
Swathi Mohan BIO
Insane Engineering behind the Rover https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqqaW8DCc-I&feature=youtu.be
By Amrish Chopra, Director VMWare
Life Member, ASEI Silicon Valley