Sometimes halves can be a good thing – especially on such a long journey. The agency’s newest rover only has about 146 million miles left to reach its destination.
NASA’s Mars The 2020 Perseverance Rover mission has covered many air miles since it was launched into the sky on July 30 – 235.4 million kilometers (146.3 million miles) to be precise. It turns out that this is exactly the same distance it must travel before the spaceship reaches the atmosphere of the Red Planet like a freight train traveling at 19,000 km / h on February 18, 2021.
“Today at 1:40 p.m. Pacific time, our spaceship will have as many miles in its metaphorical rearview mirror as it does in its metaphorical windshield,” said Julie Kangas, a navigator who worked on the Perseverance rover mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the United States works Southern California. “I don’t think there’ll be cake, especially since most of us work from home, but it’s still a nice milestone. Next stop, Jezero Crater. ”
The gravitational influence of the sun plays an important role in shaping not only the trajectories of spacecraft to Mars (as well as to all other locations in the solar system), but also the relative movement of the two planets. The route from Perseverance to the Red Planet follows a curved trajectory rather than an arrow straight path.
NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover reached its half point – 146.3 million miles (235.4 million kilometers) – on its journey to Jezero Crater on October 27, 2020 at 1:40 p.m. (4:40 p.m. CET). Photo credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
“Even though we are halfway to Mars, the rover is not halfway between the two worlds,” explained Kangas. “At a straight distance, the earth is 26.6 million miles [42.7 million kilometers] behind Perseverance and Mars are 17.9 million miles [28.8 million kilometers] in front.”
At the current distance, it takes 2 minutes and 22 seconds for a transmission from the mission controllers at JPL via the Deep Space Network to the spaceship. At the time of landing, Perseverance will have covered 472.8 million kilometers Mars will be approximately 209 million kilometers from Earth. At this point, it would take a transmission about 11.5 minutes to reach the spaceship.
NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover has traveled 146.3 million (235.4 million kilometers) space miles – exactly half of what it will cover before reaching the Red Planet. Check out the full interactive experience at Eyes on the Solar System.
Work continues on the way
The mission team continues to study large and small spacecraft systems during the interplanetary cruise. Perseverance’s RIMFAX and MOXIE instruments were tested on October 15 and found to be in good condition. MEDA gave a thumbs up on October 19th. On October 16, there was even a line item to check the condition of the X-ray tube in the PIXL instrument, which went as planned.
“If it’s part of our spacecraft and has electricity flowing through it, we want to confirm that it will still function properly after launch,” said Keith Comeaux, assistant chief engineer for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission. “Between these registers – along with charging the batteries of the rover and the Mars helicopter, uploading files and sequences for surface operations, and planning and executing trajectory correction maneuvers – our shield is full by the time we land.”
This depiction of the Mars 2020 spacecraft in interplanetary space was created using images from NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System. The picture comes from the middle of the mission between Earth and Mars. Photo credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
More about the mission
A key objective of Perseverance’s mission to Mars is astrobiology, including finding signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the red planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rocks and regolith (broken rock and dust).
Subsequent missions, currently under review by NASA in collaboration with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and bring them back to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The Mars 2020 mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the moon in preparation for human exploration of the red planet. NASA is slated to bring astronauts back to the moon by 2024 and establish a sustained human presence on and around the moon by 2028 through NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration plans.
JPL, managed for NASA by Caltech of Pasadena, California, built and manages the operation of the Perseverance and Curiosity rovers.
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