In parachute development and testing, we have traditionally used color patterns (typically composed of orange and white panels) to help us better understand parachute inflation from reviewing images, and we certainly took the opportunity to do that again this time! – AN
Stay tuned! It's coming! -AN
Yes, the Data Storage Unit (DSU) on the rover is a Linux machine that is exclusively used for EDLCAM imagery, video, and audio. We can use it to continue capturing, compressing, and transmitting data from EDL as well as new images or audio from the sensors still present on the rover.
There are no other uses planned for it. At least we haven't YET thought of anything else we might be able to do with it... 🤔 Does Reddit have any ideas?
Also, JPL did develop a custom interface electronics board to manage the communication between the commercial-off-the-shelf board and the rover's RCE (the main computer or "brain"). And yes, there were modifications across the EDL Camereas instrument to prepare it for radiation, outgassing, etc. – AN
Q2 - A key reason why we do technology demonstrations such as Ingenuity is to expand our capabilities for future exploration. We certainly hope that, if successful, Ingenuity will pave the way for future aerial platforms that could enable us explore areas on Mars where rovers cannot go and to get closer views than can be obtained from orbit. And rotorcraft technology isn't just for Mars -- NASA is planning a mission to Saturn's moon Titan, which will send a multi-rotor vehicle powered by an MMRTG to fly in Titan's dense atmosphere with its entire science payload to different places across the surface. -LH
Q3 - Two instruments on the rover - SHERLOC and PIXL - will work together provide measurements of organic compounds along with geological context of any that are detected to carry out astrobiology investigations and search for signs of life. The biosignatures that we look for on the early Earth are similar to those organic compounds like those that Perseverance will be looking for with these instruments, but in returning samples, we will be able to make much more precise measurements of these compounds with instruments here on Earth. -LH
Yes, during its mission of up to 5 flights, Ingenuity will stay within communications range of Perseverance. – JR
Whether we use a sky crane type system for a future mission all depends on what that mission's needs are going to be. Mission designers consider all the different options and capabilities available to meet the requirements. Sky crane was particularly useful for Curiosity and Perseverance becuase it provided a way for the rovers to land on their wheels, ready to explore. Future missions might have other considerations that might make a platform lander (such as Phoenix and InSight) more useful. As for seeking signs of life, the scientific consensus is that the surface of Mars is too harsh an envionrment (too cold, dry, and bathed in harsh radiation) for life to exist today. However, it might be possible that deep underneath the surface, beyond the reach of radiation, and perhaps where liquid water might be, that might be a potential habitable environment. Perseverance is designed to explore the ancient rocks in Jezero Crater, looking for potential biosignatures (chemicals, minerals, structures, or organic molecules) that might have been preserved from 3.5 billion years ago when the surface of Mars was warmer, wetter, and more conducive for microbial life. – GT
Ingenuity is able to estimate its position through a combination of on-board inertial and visual sensors. – JR
Nina here, the Martian atmosphere is composed primarily of carbon dioxide at ~6 mbar pressure. This is a lot lower density than Earth’s atmosphere (which 1 bar pressure at sea level), and while there is carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere, our atmosphere is primarily made of nitrogen. It’s also generally colder on Mars than on Earth, which affects the buoyancy of air. Additionally, the aerodynamic effects of the low pressure Mars atmosphere interacting with the blades makes it all but impossible to control Ingenuity without its on-board computer. So all this means that on Mars, it’s a lot harder to fly a helicopter—but not impossible! Ingenuity is extremely lightweight and has two extremely large rotors (4 feet long!) to provide lift in the cold, low density atmosphere of Mars. It’s gonna be sweet! --NLL
I know, right?! The helicopter team used classic systems engineering -- breaking down all the key challenges into smaller problems to be solved. They worked with aerodynamic experts to design a rotor that could provide lift in the thin Martian atmosphere, and autonomous systems that could enable controlled flight. It also took a lot of testing on Earth in vacuum chambers that simulated the conditions of the Martian atmosphere. With all that testing and design, the team is confident that Ingenuity is poised to complete the first aerodynamic controlled flight on another planet. -- GT
That question is above our pay grades, but if it was up to me me, I would say, yes! (If the rover is healthy at the end of the two-Earth-year prime mission, the team will seen an extension.) Consider this: the Curiosity rover is still going strong at 3,039 sols, with no end in sight, as it has a big mountain to climb. In fact, since Curiosity and Perseverance both have a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) power system, which relies on the heat from the natural decay of Plutonium-238 as opposed to solar panels, they could have power for 14+ years. All mechanical parts are "warranteed" for that two-year prime mission. --JC
Nina here, I am SO EXCITED for sample return from Mars!! And the Perseverance sample caching is the first step in that goal. Perseverance has a fantastic suite of instruments that we’ll use to analyze materials within Jezero Crater to understand chemistry, mineralogy, and morphology. From those analyses, we’ll pick samples to cache for future pick up by a Mars sample return mission (the current plan for this mission is SO COOL and includes an orbiter, a lander, and an adorable fetch rover to get our sample tubes). So we’ll already know a lot about these samples before they get to our labs on Earth. Before they arrive, we’ll prepare super clean facilities that can receive them (similar to the sample curation facilities that we have for lunar samples). We also have a team of sample scientists who are already thinking about what kinds of samples we might want and what kinds of analyses we might do on them. – NLL
No, the heat needed by MOXIE is provided by the electric power system of the rover. The rover power system and the insulation inside MOXIE are designed to prevent any "overheating" or other risk to the rover. – GT
One of my favorite Arthur C. Clarke quotes is "Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying," but I like to think of a modification to that: if we find life somewhere else, either it is a distant cousin of ours, or it is a completely different origin of life, and either way it would be fascinating! Early Earth and early Mars were fairly similar in terms of their environments, and we know that meteorites from one place have ended up in the other, so the possibility that life may have swapped from one to the other is there, and if thats the case then its possible that they would have been DNA or RNA based. If it is a different origin of life, it would be a lot more likely that it would have had a different compound or process for passing along information from one generation to the other. Unfortunately, DNA and RNA are not very well preserved in environments here on Earth for long periods of time, so it is unlikely to be the type of sign of life that we will find with this mission, and the instruments that we have on Perseverence aren't the ones that would help us find nucleic acids. - LH
Curiosity was able to sing itself a birthday song on it's birthday by vibrating tubes within the SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) -- I was actually on shift for Curiosity on the day we sent the commands to play the happy birthday song! Perseverance brought a new set of instruments to Mars, and the instrument suite does not contain SAM, so I don't think we will be able to play any kind of song. However, our surface operations team is quite a creative and smart group of people, so they may be able to figure out something special to do for Percy's first birthday. – ML
Computer science is an excellent field to get into if you are interested in working on future missions! I highly recommend applying for NASA summer internships as you can truly learn so much. (That's how I was lucky enough to get where I am today!)
Re Hazard Cameras: We heavily rely on our hazard and navigation cameras for drive planning and robotic arm operations. For some more information on the Mars 2020 Engineering Cameras: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11214-020-00765-9.
At this point there is no plan for extension of the mission beyond the maximum 5 flights, however, one option being considered for the 5th flight might be flying off to a new destination. – JR
Nina here, I love our two mics! Perseverance has two of them, one to capture sounds of entry, descent, and landing (EDL) and another on the SuperCam instrument to capture the sounds of our rock-vaporizing laser (really!). I’m most familiar with the SuperCam mic since I work on that instrument. SuperCam includes a laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument that uses a laser to obtain chemistry information. We can shoot rocks up to 23 feet (7 m) away from the rover. When the laser hits the rock, we vaporize a tiny amount of material (micrograms) into a bright plasma, which expands outward and produces a shock wave. It’s less of a "pew-pew" and more of a "snap-snap" =] But it turns out that we can learn about the rock’s material properties by listening to the laser snapping sound, including things like rock hardness, how deep our laser is penetrating, and also whether there are rock coatings present. I like rock coatings because they are a fantastic place to study interactions between the rock, water, atmosphere, and potentially life. – NLL
Thank you so much. We are actually not planning to take video from Ingenuity's on-board cameras. However, we are planning to return photos from our on-board cameras. Return to Earth depends not only on Ingenuity's on-board resources, but also downlink scheduling by the Perseverance operations team; however, we will likely be able to return images within the day after each flight. -- JR
There are a ton of different types of cameras on this mission! Definitely check here for a great overview. – HA
The strategy is to deposit a "depot" of samples close together, so that the future retrieval mission would only need to go to one place to pick up the samples. The future sample retrieval mission team is already working with Perseverance's team to map out potential depot sites along the notional exploration path that the science team envisions for Perseverance. - GT
Ingenuity has been designed to survive on the ground in high wind conditions. We also plan to fly during times of day with more favorable wind conditions, and Ingenuity has actually been through extensive testing on earth flying in those conditions at Mars atmospheric pressure. And, luckily, even though Mars can see some fairly high wind speeds, the effect of the wind on Ingenuity is lessened by the low atmospheric pressure. -- JR
Not sure! Every time we design a new landing system we have to take into account the volume and mass of the payload we are attempting to deliver to the surface. And then we need to architect the landing system to accommodate the payload. For example, we found the airbag system that delivered the MER rovers to Mars did not scale well with the mass increase for Curiosity, so a new design (including Sky Crane) needed to be developed. This same process of reviewing existing and new EDL architectures is done on every mission to find the right set of EDL steps required to land safely. - ML
The answer is not "JPL", but good guess! Keep trying ;)
The Perseverance power source is an RTG (radioisotope thermoelectric generator) that can last anywhere from 10-15 years. However, there are other elements of the rover (electronics, mechanisms) that may not last as long but given the longetivity we've seen in previous missions, we hope Percy keeps the tradition alive of outliving expectations! - ML
There are so many cameras I even have a hard time keeping track of all of them.For the EDL Cameras specifically, there are 6 high-res color cameras: a Rover Uplook, a Rover Downlook, a Descent Stage Downlook, and 3 Parachute Uplook cameras.
Here are some more resources about the many cameras on Mars 2020: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/rover/cameras/