" Linux on Mars - The Perseverance 2021"
Space researchers have been sending spacecraft and satellites to the red planet Mars since 1970. They have sent them in different forms such as orbiters, landers, and more. One such type is the rovers. Rovers are sent to move around a planet and analyze the composition of the planet. Rovers sent to Mars helped in analyzing the different types of rocks, their chemical composition, and the overall environment of Mars. Till now, NASA has sent 5 rovers to mars. They are Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, and Perseverance.
Sojourner is the first rover sent to Mars in 1997 to explore and take pictures of the planet. Sojourner was sent within the spacecraft called the lander. Lander releases the rover once it touches Mars by opening a panel and the rover starts its exploration. Airbags inside the lander ensure the safe landing of the spacecraft. It was landed at a site called Ares Vallis at Mars, started driving and took more than 550 photos, and sent back. It helped in analyzing information about rock, dirt, wind, and weather factors of the Martian environment.
Spirit and Opportunity
They are the twin rovers sent to explore more about the red planet. They were sent in 2003, to explore the existence of water on Mars. The two rovers were sent to two different regions at mars, Spirit to Gusev Crater, as it appeared rivers flowed into the region and Opportunity to Meridiani Planum, which is a flat region at mars. Spirit holds the record of taking first color pictures of another planet and took many pictures that were used to find the evidence of volcanic activity, water existence, and hot springs at mars.
The opportunity also took color pictures that helped to analyze the mineral composition in the rocks and water existence. Those rovers proved that like Earth, Mars also had underground water and water vapor in the Martian atmosphere.
Curiosity is the third rover sent to mars in 2012 to analyze the red planet for the chance of microbial existence or survival. It landed at Gale crater that has a tall mountain in the midst. The different layers of the mountain consisting of different minerals helped in exploring the existence of water in the past. Curiosity drilled a hole and studied the powdered substance using its scientific instruments, for the possibility of survival. The rover had been sent along with 17 cameras to study more about mars. The rover also studied the levels of radiation on Mars.
Perseverance is a Mars 2020 Mission's rover launched on Atlas V launch vehicle by NASA on 30 July 2020 and landed on Mars on 18 February 2021. It is landed at Jezero crater on Mars along with the robotic helicopter named Ingenuity attached to it, to discover the biological signatures on the craters. Perseverance is expected to cache samples and explore the possibility of life on Mars.
The mission is to explore biosignatures found on the Jezero crater that is located 18.38° N and 77.58°E on the Syrtis Major quadrangle in Mars. It searches for past life and collects soil and rock samples from Mars to explore the possibility of life on Mars. The rover got its name from the student naming competition in June 2019 conducted by NASA.
Perseverance Rover's Design
Image Credit - Business Insider
It was designed almost similar to its predecessor Curiosity, as both are equipped with common hardware. Engineers made Perseverance more robust to avoid deterioration because of the Martian atmosphere. It was designed with thick, durable 52.5 cm aluminum wheels, and the wheels are covered with cleats and curved titanium spokes which makes them 14 percent stronger than Curiosity. The anatomy of the rover is described here,
It has been constructed with robotic, five-jointed arms (2.1m long) in combination with a turret which aids in analyzing the sample that is geologically present on the surface of Mars.
Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) that contains plutonium dioxide( 4.8 kg), has been infused to provide electrical supply to the rover.
To ensure the smooth operation of the rover, when the power demand is high, two lithium-ion batteries were also incorporated into it.
and the Ingenuity helicopter.