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NASA to launch 2 more choppers to Mars to help return rocks

NASA to launch 2 more choppers to Mars to help return rocks


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA is launching two extra mini helicopters to Mars in its effort to return Martian rocks and soil samples to Earth.

Below the plan introduced Wednesday, NASA’s Perseverance rover will do double responsibility and transport the cache to the rocket that can launch them off the crimson planet a decade from now.

Perseverance already has gathered 11 samples with extra rock drilling deliberate. The latest pattern, a sedimentary rock, holds the best promise of containing potential proof of historic Martian life, mentioned Arizona State College’s Meenakshi Wadhwa, chief scientist for the retrieval effort.

There’s “a range of supplies already within the bag, so to talk, and actually excited concerning the potential for bringing these again,” she mentioned.

If Perseverance breaks down, the 2 helicopters being constructed and launched later this decade would load the samples onto the rocket as a substitute.

The helicopters might be modeled after NASA’s profitable Ingenuity, which has made 29 flights since arriving with Perseverance at Mars early final yr. The chopper weighs simply four kilos (1.eight kilograms). The brand new variations would have wheels and grappling arms.

NASA officers mentioned Perseverance’s spectacular efficiency at Mars prompted them to ditch their plan to launch a separate fetch rover.

Jeff Gramling, director of NASA’s Mars pattern return program, mentioned the revised path ahead is easier. Every helicopter might be designed to elevate one pattern tube at a time, making a number of journeys forwards and backwards.

“Now we have confidence that we will depend on Perseverance to deliver the samples again and we’ve added the helicopters as a backup means,” Gramling mentioned.

NASA is collaborating with the European House Company on the retrieval mission. If all goes as deliberate, as many as 30 samples would blast off from Mars in 2031 and arrive at Earth in 2033. Lab evaluation is required to see whether or not any pattern holds indicators of microbial life which will have existed on Mars billions of years in the past when water flowed on the planet.

As for the grounded ExoMars rover, it can’t be refashioned to assist retrieve these samples, mentioned David Parker, director of human and robotic exploration for ESA. It was returned to storage after Russia and Europe lower ties with the mission due to the battle in Ukraine. Russia was supposed to offer the rocket experience.

A choice on when the rover nonetheless can launch to Mars later this decade will not come till late fall, Parker mentioned.

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The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Schooling. The AP is solely liable for all content material.



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