Hear Sounds From Mars Captured by NASA’s Perseverance Rover

This illustration of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover indicates the location of its two microphones. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Two microphones aboard the six-wheeled spacecraft add a new dimension to the way scientists and engineers explore the Red Planet.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Thanks to two microphones aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover, the mission has recorded nearly five hours of Martian wind gusts, rover wheels crunching over gravel, and motors whirring as the spacecraft moves its arm. These sounds allow scientists and engineers to experience the Red Planet in new ways – and everyone is invited to listen in.

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With First Martian Samples Packed, Perseverance Initiates Mars Sample Return Mission

This composite of two images shows the hole drilled by NASA’s Perseverance rover during its successful sample-collection attempt. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA, along with the European Space Agency, is developing a campaign to return the Martian samples to Earth.

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On Sept. 1, NASA’s Perseverance rover unfurled its arm, placed a drill bit at the Martian surface, and drilled about 2 inches, or 6 centimeters, down to extract a rock core. The rover later sealed the rock core in its tube. This historic event marked the first time a spacecraft packed up a rock sample from another planet that could be returned to Earth by future spacecraft.

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Nutrient Mixing System for Future Lunar Greenhouses

Greenhouse concept for use on the moon and Mars. (Credit: LIQUIFER Systems Group)

BREMEN, Germany (DLR PR) — The development of greenhouse systems is essential in order to enable life on the moon and Mars in the long term in the future. This requires bio-regenerative life support systems that close vital cycles. After more than a year of joint design and development work in cooperation between the Dutch company Priva and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), two prototypes of a nutrient mixing system for future lunar and Mars greenhouses have now been completed and installed. Tests of the promising systems begin in the DLR’s EDEN laboratory in Bremen. The aim is to set up a 1: 1 demonstrator of a lunar greenhouse system there by 2025.

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NASA’s Perseverance Sheds More Light on Jezero Crater’s Watery Past

The escarpment the science team refers to as “Scarp a” is seen in this image captured by Perseverance rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument on Apr. 17, 2021. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

Pictures from NASA’s latest six-wheeler on the Red Planet suggest the area’s history experienced significant flooding events.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A new paper from the science team of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover details how the hydrological cycle of the now-dry lake at Jezero Crater is more complicated and intriguing than originally thought. The findings are based on detailed imaging the rover provided of long, steep slopes called escarpments, or scarps in the delta, which formed from sediment accumulating at the mouth of an ancient river that long ago fed the crater’s lake. 

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National Academies Report Identifies New Approach for Some NASA Missions to Prevent Contaminating Mars with Earth-Based Microbes

Séítah From the Air: This image looking west toward the Séítah geologic unit on Mars was taken from the height of 33 feet (10 meters) by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter during its sixth flight, on May 22, 2021. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (National Academies PR) — A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine identifies criteria that could allow robotic missions to certain locations on Mars to be carried out with less restrictive “bioburden” requirements, which are designed to prevent the unintentional transport of Earth-based microbes to Mars.

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UAE, CU Boulder to Team on Mission to Explore Venus and Asteroids

Venus hides a wealth of information that could help us better understand Earth and exoplanets. NASA’s JPL is designing mission concepts to survive the planet’s extreme temperatures and atmospheric pressure. This image is a composite of data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Fresh off the success of the Hope Mars orbiter, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric Science and Physics (LASP) will team again on an ambitious mission to explore Venus and seven asteroids.

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USNC-Tech Team Wins Contract to Develop Nuclear Thermal Propulsion System For NASA

Nuclear thermal propulsion system. (Credit; USNC-Tech)

NTP Technology Can Enable Human Missions to Mars

SEATTLE (USNC-Tech PR) — Idaho National Laboratory has selected USNC-Tech and its partners to develop a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) reactor concept design for space exploration: the Power-Adjusted Demonstration Mars Engine (PADME) NTP engine.

This effort, one of three selected by the government team, is a step toward the manufacture and demonstration of safe, affordable, reliable, high-performance NTP engines for crewed deep space travel. In the future, the designs could inform a full-scale NTP engine prototype. The funding for this procurement was provided by NASA. INL is operated by Battelle Energy Alliance for the Department of Energy.

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University of Cincinnati Reactor Makes Martian Fuel

UC chemical engineering assistant professor Jingjie Wu, left and doctoral student Tianyu Zhang are experimenting with different catalysts to convert carbon dioxide to storable fuel to address climate change. (Credit: Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand)

by Michael Miller
University of Cincinnati

Engineers at the University of Cincinnati are developing new ways to convert greenhouse gases to fuel to address climate change and get astronauts home from Mars.

UC College of Engineering and Applied Science assistant professor Jingjie Wu and his students used a carbon catalyst in a reactor to convert carbon dioxide into methane. Known as the “Sabatier reaction” from the late French chemist Paul Sabatier, it’s a process the International Space Station uses to scrub the carbon dioxide from air the astronauts breathe and generate rocket fuel to keep the station in high orbit.

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EPSC 2021: Scientists Use Seasons to Find Water for Future Mars Astronauts

Global map of Mars with overlaid topography indicating areas with significant seasonal variations in hydrogen content during northern spring (top) and fall (bottom). Green (red) represents increase (decrease) in hydrogen content. The areas highlighted in orange are Hellas Planitia in the southern hemisphere, and Utopia Rupes in the northern hemisphere. These are the only extended regions undergoing a significant variation throughout the Martian year. (Credit: G. Martínez)

STRASBOURG, France (Europlanet Society PR) — An international team of researchers has used seasonal variations to identify likely sub-surface deposits of water ice in the temperate regions of Mars where it would be easiest for future human explorers to survive. The results are being presented this week by Dr Germán Martínez at the European Planetary Science Conference (EPSC) 2021.

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Flying on Mars Is Getting Harder and Harder

Mars Helicopter Sol 193 – Navigation Camera: NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter acquired this image using its navigation camera during its 13th flight on Sep. 5, 2021 (Sol 193 of the Perseverance rover mission) at the local mean solar time of 12:06:30. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Written by Håvard Grip
Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Chief Pilot
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

In the months since we flew for the first time, we have learned a great deal about operating a helicopter on Mars. We have explored Ingenuity’s strengths and limitations in detail, leveraging the former and working around the latter to operationalize it as a highly capable reconnaissance platform.

With the benefit of the knowledge acquired, conducting flights on Mars has in most ways become easier than it was at the outset. But in one important way it is actually getting more difficult every day: I’m talking about the atmospheric density, which was already extremely low and is now dropping further due to seasonal variations on Mars.

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This Week in Elon: Musk Mocks Biden Amid Cooler Political Climate, Federal Investigation of Tesla

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It seems that Elon Musk is a bit peeved that President Joe Biden didn’t congratulate SpaceX on completing the privately-funded Inspiration4 crewed mission last week and helping to raise $210 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“He’s still sleeping,” Musk wrote in response to a question from a Twitter follower about Biden’s silence. It was a clear reference to ex-President Donald Trump’s description of him as “sleepy Joe” during the campaign.

The remark set off the usual battle on social media. Musk’s legion of defenders called the omission unforgivable. Musk’s critics noted his willingness to amply praise authoritarian China where Musk’s Tesla Motors has a manufacturing plant even as he called U.S. officials “fascists” for their efforts to contain the deadly COVID-19 virus.

For his part, Jared Isaacman, the billionaire who funded and commanded the Inspiration4 flight, says Biden’s silence is no big deal.

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NASA Empowers Workforce to Advance Deep Space Technologies

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 10 proposals led by early-career employees across the agency for two-year projects that will support the development of new capabilities for deep space human exploration.

These proposals were selected under Project Polaris, a new initiative to support the NASA workforce in efforts to meet the challenges of sending humans to the Moon and Mars. Project Polaris seeks to fill high-priority capability gaps on deep space missions like those planned under Artemis and introduce new technologies into human exploration flight programs. The project also aims to create opportunities for early-career employees across NASA centers to gain experience building and testing flight hardware while developing technologies and reducing risk for future human exploration missions.

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Abyss Solutions Awarded Moon to Mars Grant for its Space Project

HOMEBUSH, NSW (Abyss PR) — Australian and Houston-based AI and robotics leader Abyss Solutions has just received a Demonstrator Feasibility grant under the federal government and Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars Initiative. The company that builds AI solutions to drive autonomous robotics applications for the offshore oil and gas industries will now apply those next-gen technologies to Mars and space.

Abyss received the grant to conduct feasibility testing and transform their space borne robotic inspection and intervention project into a next-gen technology that can be used in future NASA missions to the Moon and beyond.

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Visionary Tech Concepts Could Pioneer the Future in Space

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA missions make it seem like the future is now – rovers exploring Mars with cutting-edge gadgets, a spacecraft venturing home with an asteroid sample, and a complex space telescope peering at the early universe. So, what’s the next big thing? What might space missions in 2050 and beyond set out to discover? 

One small NASA program aims to see what could be possible. The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, part of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, funds early-stage research into sci-fi sounding, futuristic technology concepts. The goal is to find what might work,  what might not, and what exciting new ideas researchers may come up with along the way

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NASA’s Perseverance Rover Collects Puzzle Pieces of Mars’ History

Two holes are visible in the rock, nicknamed “Rochette,” from which NASA’s Perseverance rover obtained its first core samples. The rover drilled the hole on the left, called “Montagnac,” Sept. 7, and the hole on the right, known as “Montdenier,” Sept. 1. Below it is a round spot the rover abraded. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover successfully collected its first pair of rock samples, and scientists already are gaining new insights into the region. After collecting its first sample, named “Montdenier,” Sept. 6, the team collected a second, “Montagnac,” from the same rock Sept. 8.

Analysis of the rocks from which the Montdenier and Montagnac samples were taken and from the rover’s previous sampling attempt may help the science team piece together the timeline of the area’s past, which was marked by volcanic activity and periods of persistent water.

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