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NASA changes its plan and adopts helicopters to bring samples from Mars - 07/08/2022 - Messenger Sidereal

NASA changes its plan and adopts helicopters to bring samples from Mars – 07/08/2022 – Messenger Sidereal

In an effort to simplify the architecture of the Mars sample return mission, NASA and the European Space Agency have decided to forego building one of the rover envisioned and replace it with two small helicopters instead.

It makes a legitimate decision more feasible – as well as helping to keep the budget under control – while it is China advances plans To bring samples from Mars two years before the joint project of the American and European space agencies.

Samples from Mars are already being collected for return to Earth: the Perseverance rover, currently operating in Mars crater Jezero, is placing small cores of rock extracted by a drill into small tubes for future transportation from there to here.

Originally, the plan included another landing mission, carrying a rocket capable of taking off from the surface of Mars (to be provided by the Americans) and a persistence sampling rover (to be manufactured by the Europeans). In March, it became clear that it would be impossible to put both in the same lander, splitting this stage in two. Now, with the European rover ditched, the project once again has just one lander, which will take the rocket to the surface for a Mars ascent, and two small helicopters, slightly larger than the Ingenuity — an experimental craft that’s been on Mars since last year.

As for perseverance, your work on the new chassis will double. In addition to collecting samples, as he was doing, his job will be to transport them to the boarding vehicle. The helicopters, equipped with small automatic weapons to handle the tubes, would only serve as a back-up strategy in case the rover was prevented from completing the task itself.

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“The key to our new architecture is the final determination of perseverance reliability and lifetime based on its performance to date,” explained Jeff Gramling, director of NASA’s Mars Sample Return Program. “We are confident that the rover will be able to deliver samples to the rescue unit in 2030, when the need arises.”

The rest follows the original plan: Once the capsule with the samples is placed in orbit around Mars, it will be picked up by a European orbiter capable of returning it to Earth. It is still expected to arrive in 2033.

The original budget was $7 billion, and the project was not re-priced in March, when the plan switched to using two new landing craft. Going back to being one, it’s possible that would bring the cost back to baseline – but even that’s not certain, as an independent review suggested the original cost was understated by $1 billion. Opera Summary: Cheap will not be.

Meanwhile, the Chinese are continuing to work to get there first, with simpler architecture, capable of bringing rocks from Mars in 2031.

This column is published on Monday in Folha Corrida.

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