Cape Town, Florida-Mars is about to be invaded by the earth-great time.

The three countries of the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates will send unmanned spacecraft to the Red Planet in rapid succession starting this week. This is by far the largest effort to find signs of ancient micro life and serve as future astronauts. Find a location.

The United States is sending Perseverance, a six-round wanderer like a carTo collect rock samples that will be brought back to Earth for analysis in about ten years.

“The name is more important now than ever before,” said Jim Bryanstein, director of NASA. “Preparations during the coronavirus outbreak will minimize the guest list.”

Each spaceship will travel more than 300 million miles (483 million kilometers) before reaching Mars next February. It takes at least six to seven months for the spacecraft to get out of Earth’s orbit and keep pace with Mars’ more distant orbit around the sun.

Scientists want to know what Mars looked like billions of years ago. At that time its rivers, lakes and oceans might have proliferated simple tiny creatures, before the earth became the barren and cold desert world today.

to confirm that life exists on another planet is a difficult task. Its burden of proof is very high,” said Perseverance’s project scientist Ken Farley of Caltech, Pasadena, California.

The almost three simultaneous launches are no coincidence: the choice of time depends on the opening of a one-month window in which Mars and Earth are ideally aligned on the same side of the Sun, thereby minimizing travel time and fuel Consume. Such a window only opens once every 26 months.

Mars has been using its imagination for a long time, but it turns out that it is a cemetery for many missions. The spacecraft exploded, burned or crashed, and the casualty rate for decades has exceeded 50%. China’s last attempt to cooperate with Russia in 2011 ended in failure.

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Starting with the Double Vikings in 1976, only the United States successfully placed a spaceship on Mars for eight times. There are now two NASA landers flying there, Insight And curiosity. Six other spaceships are exploring the planet from orbit: three Americans, two Europeans and one from India.

Both the United Arab Emirates and China want to join elite clubs.

The UAE’s space shuttle is called Amal, and it is the star of hope for the Arabs. It is a rocket planned to take off from Japan on Wednesday, local time. This will be the first mission in the Arab world. The spacecraft was built in cooperation with the University of Colorado Boulder and will arrive on Mars in the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the UAE.

“The UAE wants to send a very strong message to Arab youth,” said project manager Omran Sharaf. “The information here is that if the UAE can reach Mars in less than 50 years, then you can do more. … The advantage of space is that it makes the standard set very high.”

The astronomical meteorological station controlled by Dubai will work on an ultra-high Martian orbit of 13,670 miles by 27,340 miles (22,000 by 44,000 kilometers) to study the upper atmosphere and monitor climate change.

Next is China. Sometime around July 23, there will be rover and orbiter flights. Chinese officials did not disclose much. The task is called “Sky Question” or “Sky Question”.

At the same time, NASA is preparing to launch from Cape Canaveral on July 30.

Perseverance will fall in an ancient delta and a lake called Jezero Crater, not as large as Lake Okeechobee in Florida. China’s much smaller rover will aim for a easier and flatter target.

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In order to reach the surface, both spacecraft must travel through the hazy red sky of Mars. This is called the “horrible seven minutes.” This is the most difficult and dangerous part of pushing the spacecraft towards the earth.

Jezero Crater is full of boulders, cliffs, sand dunes and depressions, any of which may end the mission of perseverance. New guidance and parachute trigger technology will help keep the aircraft away from danger. Considering that radio transmission takes 10 minutes between Earth and Mars, the ground controller will be helpless.

According to the scientists who chose it in 60 other potential locations, Jezero Crater is worth the risk.

Where there is water-Jezero was obviously washed away by the water 3.5 billion years ago-maybe there is life, although it may just be a simple microbial life, maybe it is in the mucosa at the bottom of the crater. But these microorganisms may have left obvious traces in the sediment layer.

Perseverance will look for rocks (if any) that contain such biological characteristics.

It will drill into the most promising rock and store half a kilogram (about 1 pound) of samples in dozens of titanium tubes, which will eventually be taken by another rover. In order to prevent the contamination of the samples by the earth’s microorganisms, the test tubes were super sterilized, and the sterility was guaranteed by Adam Stelzner, chief engineer of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, USA.

He said: “Yes, I won a reputation for this.”

Wandering on the surface, perseverance and Chinese roamers will peep below and use radar to locate any underground water tanks that may exist. Perseverance will also release a rotating helicopter weighing 4 pounds (1.8 kg), which will be the first rotorcraft to fly on another planet.

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Perseverance’s camera will shoot a color video of the rover’s descent, allowing humans to see the parachute over Mars for the first time while the microphone captures the sound.

Wanderers will also try to produce oxygen from carbon dioxide in the thin Martian atmosphere. One day, the extracted oxygen may be used by astronauts on Mars to breathe and make rocket propellants.

NASA hopes to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024 and send them from the moon to Mars in the 2030s. To this end, the space agency is sending samples of space suit materials with a tenacious attitude to see how they resist the harsh Martian environment.

The cost of perseveringly performing missions, including flying and operations on Mars for at least two years, is close to $3 billion. Projects in the UAE cost US$200 million, including launches but no missions. China has not disclosed its cost. After the test fell behind, Europe and Russia abandoned their to send hunters to Mars this summer, and were slammed by COVID-19.

NASA believes that Perseverance’s mission is a relatively low-risk method for testing certain technologies required to send humans to the Red Planet and return them safely to their homes.

“I frantically call it low-risk, because there is a lot of hard work, and there are billions of dollars in it, which makes me feel crazy.” Farley said: “However, compared to humans, if there is a problem, you Will be very happy. Tested on a half kilogram of rock instead of the astronaut.”


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.