Welcome to the first review of "Space and Astronomy" news, selected for you by Insane Curiosity Channel. The news, which will be weekly, will try to provide a quick overview of everything interesting happened in recent days in the field of astronomical research and space exploration
You already know this one... after a journey of almost seven months, on February 18 Perseverance finally landed on the sands of Jazero crater. Everything went perfectly well.
Now the rover will need a few days to activate the navigation and communication systems with which it is equipped and to start in practice its exploratory mission. That there is a lot of work to do is demonstrated by the first photo that was sent to Earth after landing. Although the rover is equipped with at least 23 cameras including some, such as Mastcam-Z, even at very high resolution and with the ability to shot 3D video, the first shot was rather disappointing, in black and white and also a bit blurry.
Someone here had already started to turn up his nose, but don't worry! The reason for this poorly defined image is related to the fact that at that moment we preferred to send a low resolution photo taken with one of the navigation cameras designed with the purpose of signaling possible obstacles. In this way, we tried not to risk overloading the transmission systems.
Nothing to do with the spectacular images that we expect from Perseverance in the coming months... but the value of that first shot was more than anything else in demonstrating the success of the most delicate phase of the mission, or the overcoming of those fateful seven minutes necessary to cross the Martian atmosphere like a bullet and then slow down to touch gently the ground.
The first panoramic photos will probably be attempted during Sol 4 (Martian day that corresponds to our February 22). By the next day should instead conclude the control phases of the various instruments and only then should begin the loading of the new software. At this point, new tests will be necessary to verify that the installation has gone well according to plan. Once the checks are completed, the tests to verify the rover's ability to move will begin.
First, it will be the turn of the robotic arm and then Nasa technicians will begin to test the mobility of the rover.
These tests will be completed within one or at most two weeks. Good work Perseverance!
Meanwhile, another piece of good news seems to have come from planet Earth. The administration of the new President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, has reiterated its support for NASA's Artemis program, which aims to bring the first human astronauts back to the surface of the Moon by 2024. Certainly an ambitious date.
Jen Psaki, current White House spokesperson, has in fact stated during a conference that the government will work with industry leaders to send "another man and woman to the Moon". Psaki herself stressed that the Moon will be a sort of "checkpoint" for Mars.
There were fears that Biden would cut funding to the Artemis mission, but this official statement brings back some confidence. Let them be quick, though: 2024 is just three years away!
And still talking about the Moon, an incredible new radar instrument has provided us with a very detailed image of the Apollo 15 landing site: the Hadley Rille region.
The Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia - the largest fully steerable radio telescope in the world - was in fact equipped with a new transmitter, which allows it to transmit a powerful radar signal into space. Last November, a test was conducted by launching a radar signal toward the famous Hadley Rille. The return signal was then collected by the Very Long Baseline Array that has then converted into an image capable of showing details up to 5 meters in size ... Not bad for a "photo" taken from 400,000 kilometers away.