NASA’s Perseverance Rover 22 Days From Mars Landing

This illustration shows the events that occur in the final minutes of the nearly seven-month journey that NASA’s Perseverance rover takes to Mars. Hundreds of critical events must execute perfectly and exactly on time for the rover to land on Mars safely on Feb. 18, 2021. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Seven minutes of harrowing descent to the Red Planet is in the not-so-distant future for the agency’s Mars 2020 mission.  

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission is just 22 days from landing on the surface of Mars. The spacecraft has about 25.6 million miles (41.2 million kilometers) remaining in its 292.5-million-mile (470.8-million-kilometer) journey and is currently closing that distance at 1.6 miles per second (2.5 kilometers per second). Once at the top of the Red Planet’s atmosphere, an action-packed seven minutes of descent awaits – complete with temperatures equivalent to the surface of the Sun, a supersonic parachute inflation, and the first ever autonomous guided landing on Mars.

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6 Things to Know About NASA’s Mars Helicopter on Its Way to the Red Planet

In this illustration, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter stands on the Red Planet’s surface as NASA’s Perseverance rover (partially visible on the left) rolls away. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Ingenuity, a technology experiment, is preparing to attempt the first powered, controlled flight on the Red Planet.

When NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, it will be carrying a small but mighty passenger: Ingenuity, the Mars Helicopter.

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UArizona Scientists Will Test Mars Exploration Drones in Iceland with $3 Million NASA Grant

TUCSON, Ariz. — A team of scientists led by Christopher Hamilton of the University of Arizona is gearing up to send drones on exploration missions across a vast lava field in Iceland to test a next-generation Mars exploration concept.

Hamilton is the principal investigator on a project that has been awarded a $3.1 million NASA grant to develop a new concept combining rovers and unmanned aerial systems, commonly known as drones, to explore regions of the red planet that have been previously inaccessible. These new Rover–Aerial Vehicle Exploration Networks will be tested in Iceland to explore volcanic terrains similar to those observed on Mars.

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NASA InSight’s ‘Mole’ Ends Its Journey on Mars

Illustration of HP3 mole instrument on NASA’s InSight Mars lander. (Credit: DLR)

The heat probe hasn’t been able to gain the friction it needs to dig, but the mission has been granted an extension to carry on with its other science.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The heat probe developed and built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and deployed on Mars by NASA’s InSight lander has ended its portion of the mission. Since Feb. 28, 2019, the probe, called the “mole,” has been attempting to burrow into the Martian surface to take the planet’s internal temperature, providing details about the interior heat engine that drives the Mars’ evolution and geology. But the soil’s unexpected tendency to clump deprived the spike-like mole of the friction it needs to hammer itself to a sufficient depth.

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7 Things to Know About the NASA Rover About to Land on Mars

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. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — With only about 50 million miles (80 million kilometers) left to go in its 293-million-mile (471-million-kilometer) journey, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is nearing its new planetary home. The spacecraft has begun its approach to the Red Planet and in 43 days, on Feb. 18, 2021, Perseverance will blaze through Mars’ atmosphere at about 12,100 mph (19,500 kph), touching down gently on the surface about seven minutes later.

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Tiny NASA Cameras to Watch Commercial Lander form Craters on Moon

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — This little black camera looks like something out of a spy movie — the kind of device one might use to snap discrete photos of confidential documents.

It’s about half the size of a computer mouse.

But the only spying this camera — four of them, actually — will do is for NASA researchers wondering what happens under a spacecraft as it lands on the Moon.

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NASA Extends Juno & InSight Planetary Missions

Citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill created this image using data from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the Moon and on to Mars, the agency’s quest to seek answers about our solar system and beyond continues to inform those efforts and generate new discoveries. The agency has extended the missions of two spacecraft, following an external review of their scientific productivity.

The missions — Juno and InSight — have each increased our understanding of our solar system, as well as spurred new sets of diverse questions. 

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New Sintering Method May Reduce Cost of ISRU Production for Earth, Moon and Mars

A durable new basalt tile uses a binding agent to reduce energy use. (Credit: PISCES)

HILO, HI (PR) — After nearly a year of research, Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) scientists have developed a new ISRU (in-situ resource utilization) process that significantly reduces the time and energy needed to produce sintered basalt products. The sintering temperature required to fuse raw particles into a cohesive material has been reduced by more than 20 percent.

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CASC: More Than 40 Launches Planned for 2021

Long March 5 launches the Chang’e-5 mission to the moon. (Credit: CNSA)

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) says it is gearing up to launch more than 40 times in 2020, which would break a national record. The Xinhua news agency reports:

The construction of China’s space station, the key space mission in the year, will enter a crucial stage, according to the CASC.

The country plans to launch the core module of its manned space station in the first half of 2021. Subsequent space missions include the launches of the Tianzhou-2 cargo craft and the Shenzhou-12 manned craft.

China’s Mars probe Tianwen-1 is designed to complete orbiting, landing and roving this year.

The spacecraft, launched on July 23, 2020, is expected to enter the Mars orbit around February. Afterward, it will spend two to three months surveying potential landing sites to prepare for its landing in May.

China launched 39 times with 35 successes and four failures in 2020,

Canada’s Top Space Highlights of 2020

Credit: Canadian Space Agency

LONGUEUIL, Que. (CSA PR) — It’s an understatement to say that 2020 was an exceptional year. As the year draws to a close, here’s a look at some of the most compelling, inspirational and incredible moments for Canada in space. Happy New Year!

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

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Ozmens’ Sierra Nevada Corp. Leverages Proven Sensor Tech in Space

SPARKS, Nev., December 22, 2022 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security company owned by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, is leveraging decades of expertise in navigation and guidance systems to develop enhanced vision technology for space applications, including moon and planetary landings.

“Navigation and landing systems, and collision avoidance, are really a sweet spot for SNC,” said SNC’s CEO Fatih Ozmen. “So much of what we have learned from our national security programs about sensor processing, display rendering techniques and pilot perception – how to display information effectively to safely guide a pilot – is directly applicable to crewed and uncrewed landings on the moon or Mars.”

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NASA and DLR Strength­en Co­op­er­a­tion

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — On 17 December 2020, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) extended their framework agreement on bilateral cooperation for a further ten years.

The agreement was signed by NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, Chair of the DLR Executive Board, Professor Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, and Member of the DLR Executive Board and Head of the DLR Space Administration, Walther Pelzer, who met via video conference to mark the occasion.

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NASA Moves Forward with Campaign to Return Mars Samples to Earth

As seen in this artist’s concept, the SHERLOC instrument is located on the end of the robotic arm of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) are moving to the next phase in a campaign to deepen understanding of whether life ever existed on Mars and, in turn, better understand the origins of life on Earth.

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3 Things We’ve Learned From NASA’s Mars

Credit: NASA

InSight scientists are finding new mysteries since the geophysics mission landed two years ago.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s InSight spacecraft touched down Nov. 26, 2018, on Mars to study the planet’s deep interior. A little more than one Martian year later, the stationary lander has detected more than 480 quakes and collected the most comprehensive weather data of any surface mission sent to Mars. InSight’s probe, which has struggled to dig underground to take the planet’s temperature, has made progress, too.

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