What is landed cost

NASA rover "Perseverance" landed on Mars like a picture book

The large exploration device touched down in the Jezero crater, which is said to have once been a lake. Traces or remnants of possible life are generally considered to be probable there.

One of the largest, perhaps most momentous, Mars missions is just getting started: After almost seven months of flight, NASA's Perseverance planetary vehicle (rover) landed on Mars yesterday at around 10 p.m. CET in a picture book, in a crater 49 kilometers in diameter, where three to three were before was a lake four billion years ago. Possibly with (early) forms of living beings. A little later the first picture came from the surface.

Perseverance, or "Percy" for short, and part of the Mars 2020 mission, is the largest and most complex vehicle that has ever been brought to another celestial body. With a length of three meters and a height of over two meters, the six-wheeled vehicle has the dimensions of a small one SUVs and, with a mass of just over a ton, is heavier than the six rovers brought to Mars so far, four of which (from the USA) worked - but above all much more voluminous than almost all of them: The first two rovers (Soviet type Prop-M, Missions Mars 2 and Mars 3, 1971/72) were only as big as shoe boxes; they were lost due to accidents or defects before the mission.

Only the NASA rover "Curiosity", which was deposited in the Gale crater in 2012 and basically served as a model for Percy, fell into the same size category. It is practically the same size with around 120 kilograms less, still active and keeps sending great pictures to earth.

When falling into the thin Martian atmosphere, the rover was in a capsule that opened after parachute braking and released the Sky Crane: a bizarre flying object that carried the rover. With the help of brake and steering nozzles, it sank, looked for a landing spot autonomously, stopped briefly about 20 meters above ground and, still sinking slightly, roped the rover down to the ground. It came to a standstill, within seconds the ropes were cut, the Sky Crane flew away and hit another spot.

It should have looked something like this:

Bosnian name crater

The landing site is in the Jezero crater, named after a small community in Bosnia, where Jezero means "lake" in Slavic. Traces of rivers lead into the crater, you can see an estuary delta, sediment deposits, and clay minerals are recognized with the help of Mars satellites that typically arise in connection with water. In clay, biological structures or their residues, such as bacteria, algae, unicellular organisms, are well preserved, as is known from terrestrial waters.

The cost of the adventure, initiated in 2012, is approximately $ 2.7 billion. The rover is powered by a plutonium dioxide-fired generator and batteries. It is unprecedentedly packed with instruments, 23 cameras, a laser, digging tools, a radar from Norway to illuminate the ground down to a depth of ten meters and some premieres: It has microphones to transmit noises to earth for the first time; He is carrying the toy-sized Ingenuity drone, whose rotors have to turn at 2400 revolutions per minute much faster than on earth because of the thin CO2-The atmosphere; and he fills soil samples into cans which he places in certain places; In a few years' time, NASA and ESA robots will bring them to Earth.

"Austria picture" from the red planet

Researchers at the Joanneum in Graz and the Vienna Center for Virtual Reality and Visualization are in charge of implementing the images from the particularly important Mastcam-Z camera: Using their software, they build three-dimensional models and films of the Martian environment from myriad pixels. The meteorite researcher Christian Köberl (University of Vienna, legendary ex-boss of the Natural History Museum from 2010 to 2020) wants to use it to search for traces of meteorite impacts.

Since 1960, 49 missions from the USA, USSR / Russia, Europe, Japan, India, China and the United Arab Emirates have targeted Mars either directly or indirectly. More than half failed, and many left it with satellites. 2021 is an unusual year, as two missions already arrived on Mars in February: the Emirati satellite al-Amal (Hope) and Tianwen-1 from China, a very special package: a probe is parked in orbit, a base module and one arrives Chinese rovers are scheduled to land in May.

Crowd in space

The earthly crowd at Mars is partly a coincidence. In general, such projects have years in advance, at the same time, for reasons of celestial mechanics, there is a good time window for very short flights to Mars (seven to nine months) about every 26 months. Mars 2020, Tianwen and al-Amal each started in July 2020.

Their mission is highly symbolic for the Emirates, it is also the first flight of an Arab object beyond earth orbit; however, the probe was built in the USA and launched by a rocket in Japan. Okay, at least they are controlled from the Emirates. And it's just an attempt by the Arabs to finally succeed in the field of high-tech.

China, on the other hand, is continuing the well-known course to become a top global power. And like the USA, Russia and Europe, has long-term plans for a manned voyage to Mars.