NASA revises Mars’ pattern return plan to make use of helicopters

Image of all the vehicles involved in the planned NASA sample return.

Enlarge (credit score: NASAJPL-Caltech)

On Wednesday, NASA introduced that it had made main adjustments to its plan for returning samples from the floor of Mars within the early 2030s. At the moment being collected by the Perseverance rover, the samples are set to be moved to Earth by a relay of rovers and rockets. Now, impressed by the success of the Ingenuity helicopter, NASA is saying it might lose one of many rovers, changing it with a pair of helicopters as an alternative.

The Mars pattern return plan entails a big assortment of challenges, however a central one is that the samples are at present in Perseverance, however ultimately have to finish up in a rocket that takes off from the floor of Mars. That signifies that Perseverance must get shut sufficient to the rocket’s touchdown website—which we won’t select exactly—to trade the samples, presumably diverting it from scientific targets. It additionally cannot be too shut when the rocket lands because the rocket’s touchdown and its related {hardware} may pose a danger to the rover and its samples.

The unique plan included a contingency. Perseverance would method after the rocket had landed, and the samples can be transferred instantly. If that did not work out for no matter cause, a second rover despatched to Mars by the ESA would act as an middleman, visiting a website the place the samples had been cached, retrieving them, after which delivering them to the rocket.

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