First US Rover To Land On Mars Saturday | Aero-News Network
Aero-News Network
RSS icon RSS feed
podcast icon MP3 podcast
Subscribe Aero-News e-mail Newsletter Subscribe

Airborne Unlimited -- Most Recent Daily Episodes

Episode Date



Airborne-Wednesday Airborne-Thursday


Airborne On YouTube






Sat, Jan 03, 2004

First US Rover To Land On Mars Saturday

Spirit Is One Of Two

Stop us if this sounds familiar. Come Saturday morning, if all goes according to plan, a spacecraft from Earth will speed through the Martian atmosphere in hopes of deploying its rockets, parachutes and airbags all in sequence and touching down on the Red Planet. Shortly after landing the rover vehicle will supposedly deploy and start talking to another satellite from Earth orbiting overhead.

It's the same script European Space Agency controllers hoped would unfold without incident in the Beagle 2 mission. So far, Beagle has failed to bark. European officials now hope that its mothership, Mars Express, will be able to talk with Beagle once its in an orbit low enough to facilitate communications.

No, in this case, we're talking about the first of two American probes to land on Mars this month. Spirit and Opportunity will explore different sides of the Red Planet for signs of life. They'll look in areas where geographic data indicates there was a pretty darned good chance water once existed.

Floating on parachutes, Spirit will come to within eight seconds of landing before the golf-cart-sized probe deploys a set of airbags designed to cushion its impact. "It's not the fall that kills you. It's what you hit at the end," said Pete Theisinger, NASA's Mars project manager. He says one sharp or canted rock could doom Spirit to the afterlife that has swallowed about 20 Mars probes before it.

"Entering into Mars is always very tricky, as everyone knows, and we can fail. But we want to learn from those failures, so next time -- of course, we have another rover coming three weeks later, so we do have our own next time -- we can learn from the experience so we can correct any problems," said Polly Estabrook, telecommunications lead for the entry, descent and landing portions of the joint Mars Exploration Rover mission.

In addition to acknowledging critical commands with a series of beeps, Spirit is supposed to have a little chat with the Mars Global Surveyor which has been plotting the Martian surface since 1997. Spirit is supposed to update Surveyor on the function of its critical systems about a minute before landing. The transmission will stop as the signal is blocked by those airbags, which will allow Spirit to bounce around a bit after landing on the surface. After that, they hope a second orbiter, Mars Odyssey, will pick up signs of life from Spirit when it passes overhead a couple of hours later.

If that doesn't work, the pins-and-needles crew at the JPL lab in Pasadena (CA) will have to wait until Odyssey makes another orbit.



More News

Kickstarting Your Aviation Journey at Oshkosh 2024

A Guide to Making the Most out of the World’s Biggest Airshow EAA’s Oshkosh Airventure generates fun for all aviation lovers. You get a chance to see, touch, and maybe >[...]

Aero-News: Quote of the Day (07.22.24)

"We're excited to offer our advanced avionics to a broader range of aircraft while maintaining our commitment to value. Twin-engine aircraft usually pay a significant premium to eq>[...]

Electric Power Systems Seeks TSO for Rechargeable Battery System

Modular, Scalable Lithium Battery System for Select Aircraft Electric Power Systems, Inc., announced that it has submitted its application to the FAA for a Technical Standard Order>[...]

Advanced Micro Turbines Find Footing in USA

350 Pound-feet of Thrust Now Available in a Small, Lightweight Package UAV Propulsion Tech signed an agreement with AMT-Advanced Micro Turbines to begin marketing their tiny little>[...]

Klyde Morris (07.22.23)

Klyde Provokes The Ultimate Oshkosh Invite... Sorta... FMI:>[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus





© 2007 - 2024 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC