NASA Lands Perseverance Rover Safely on Mars
As a science-based company, we often provide our customers content related to the science of accurate gas measurement, the technical “how-to’s” of connecting a sensor, and even simple scientific activities like adding dry ice to water to create a spooky fog for Halloween. When we know that a certain scientific advancement is coming, we like to bring you a preview of that too. And we have a doozy of one, coming for you this week.
A Seven-month rover journey from the Earth
On July 30, 2020, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with a single payload – the Mars Perseverance Rover. Perseverance covered the 300 million miles between Earth and Mars in approximately 7 months because it traveled at nearly 25,000 mph.
The goal of Perseverance is to detect and collect signs of microbial life on Mars. It is the first NASA project to hunt directly for “biosignatures” since the Viking mission in 1970. Perseverance does this by utilizing a series of complex technologies including like SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals) the mast mounted laser/spectrometer/camera combination searching for organics and minerals, RIMFAX (Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Experiment) that uses radar waves to probe the subsurface of Mars, and MEDA (Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer) which is a complex system of atmospheric analysis. Also, onboard, is Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Ingenuity Helicopter whose first powered flight on Mars will allow for target and route planning for future missions.
Perseverance will also explore the Jezero Crater, which is near the planet’s equator, for at least one Martian year (about 687 Earth days).
Technical Specs for Perseverance Rover:
- Length: 10 ft (3m)
- Width: 9 ft (2.7m)
- Height: 7ft (2.2m)
- Weight: 2,260lbs (1,025kg)
Future Human Travelers on Planet Mars
But when Perseverance touches down on the Red Planet at Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021 at approx. 3:35 pm et. the technology that our team at CO2Meter is most excited about is the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment or MOXIE.
MOXIE was designed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technologies Haystack Observatory (led by Michael Hecht) to test how effectively the carbon dioxide rich atmosphere of Mars can be converted to oxygen for future human travelers to utilize. Located at the front right of the rover MOXIE will conduct a series of one-hour long experiments to convert the CO2 in the atmosphere to O2. The goal is to create 0.022 pounds of O2 per each hour-long test. And while that might not seem like a lot of O2 to create remember that the MOXIE component is less than 1 cubic foot in size (about the size of a car battery) and is only drawing 300 watts of power per cycle. Imagine what could be done at scale?
The Martian atmosphere is comprised of 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, and 1.5% argon with oxygen, methane, and carbon monoxide making up the balance. This CO2 rich atmosphere has long been the bane of NASA’s desire to send humans to Mars. Finding intelligent, transportable, and cost-effective ways to exchange the Martian atmosphere into breathable air for human life has been the subject of Ray Bradbury books like the “Martian Chronicles” and Hollywood movies like “Total Recall”.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Moxie Experimentation
In addition to converting CO2 into breathable air for human life MOXIE has a secondary purpose too: can MOXIE prove that we can make enough oxygen to be used as a liquid propellant to return humans back to Earth? Space flight is not easy and requires a propulsion method both to escape the Martian atmosphere and to propel a craft back to Earth.
"When we send humans to Mars, we will want them to return safely, and to do that they need a rocket to lift off the planet. Liquid oxygen propellant is something we could make there and not have to bring with us. One idea would be to bring an empty oxygen tank and fill it up on Mars."
- Michael Hecht, Principal Investigator
Our team at CO2Meter could not be more thrilled on the successful touch down landing of Perseverance on Mars (at 15:55 ET) on Thursday, February 18th and for all the experiments, especially MOXIE, to start to come to life and return data to Earth.
Each new program that arrives on Mars has sent back incredible information that not only helps NASA and others make intelligent decisions about future missions, but it also helps us all understand and appreciate the planet we already call home.
See, science is still cool and fun!!
For more information on Carbon Dioxide (CO2) sensor solutions or to view our popular sensors that have integrated into research and scientific applications, speak to an expert today.
(877) 678 – 4259 or Sales@CO2Meter.com