When the Perseverance spacecraft takes off to the surface of Mars on Thursday, another NASA spacecraft will already hear the blow that will be inflicted upon the arrival of the newcomer.
The hope is that these strikes will create enough vibration to be detected by InSight, a stationary NASA probe that arrived in 2018 at Listen to swamps with a highly sensitive seismometer. The InSight probe is located more than 2,000 miles to the east from where the persistence lands.
«We have a reasonable chance to see it,» said Benjamin Fernando, a graduate student at Oxford University in England and a member of the InSight science team.
Unless a catastrophic error occurs, the seismic signals InSight might not hear them emit from the rover itself. The tenacity must be brought down to the surface through a hovering crane, as it gently crashes into the ground at a speed slower than two miles an hour.
Instead, scientists will examine InSight’s seismic data for signs of the effects of two masses weighing 170 pounds of tungsten metal that helped maintain perseverance in a stable, balanced rotation during a journey of 300 million miles from Earth. At 900 miles above the surface of Mars, it will be discarded as junk, and without parachutes or backwaters to slow it down, it will collide with the surface at about 9,000 mph.
“This tremendous speed means it’s going to make a very big hole,” said Mr. Fernando. In 2012, similar tungsten blocks from Curiosity rover, which is almost the same design of tenacity, Left scars are visible from the orbit.
When reached at a shallow 10 ° angle, the blocks will have an easterly effect, creating a burst of seismic energy toward InSight, increasing the chances of detecting vibrations.
If the impact waves were detected, this would not be a mere achievement of technical skill. The data could help shed light on the structure of Mars’ crust.
The The main purpose of the seismometer on InSight It is recording swamp earthquakes, and the spacecraft has so far recorded more than 400 such tremors. Scientists also expected InSight to detect vibration caused by space rocks that sometimes collide with Mars.
But so far, the number of meteorite impacts recorded is zero. Or at least there are no vibrations. Scientists can confidently conclude that these collisions resulted from these collisions. The lack of clear signals indicates that the crust of Mars may be more similar to Earth’s crust than to Earth’s crust.
Seismic waves travel through solid rock more than a pile of loose material such as sand. On Earth, the constant ripple of tectonic plates generates new solid rocks at the surface. On the surface of the moon, there are no longer eruptions of lava, and over billions of years, meteorite bombardment has fragmented the ancient lunar crust into small pieces. The result is a loose top layer, he explains Why did the astronauts leave so many shoe prints? During their visits.
“Mars might be somewhere between the moon and the earth,” said Mr. Fernando.
However, with persistence, the exact time and location of the landing will be known, so InSight scientists will know where to look at the seismic data and pull out a small signal that is usually ignored.
This is similar to how scientists decades ago were able to calibrate the seismometers that NASA’s Apollo astronauts left on the moon when cutting rockets and landing craft on the moon. Collided with the moon.
With this knowledge, they can then sift through past data and look for similar patterns that could be meteorite impacts.
Mr. Fernando and other scientists at InSight also looked at other signals the seismometer might pick up. Perhaps the air pressure waves of the sonic boom for incoming perseverance would suffice. Or the sonic impulse will shake the ground, creating a wave that travels to InSight.
But their calculations showed that the complaints would be too small to detect.
They also considered looking for larger pieces of the spacecraft such as the heat shield that would also collide with Earth. But it will be eliminated at lower altitudes and will not travel at the same speed, generating small seismic waves.
Weather can pose another complication. If the winds on Mars are very strong on Thursday, they can bombard the InSight seismometer, creating noise that can also block the signal from arriving in persistence.
What lies beneath the surface of Mars remains in large part a mystery. In fact, the bowels of the planet thwarted InSight’s other main target, to deploy a thermal probe, called the Mole, that would knock itself out about 16 feet into the Martian soil. But the probe continued to recoil.
The sand around the mole exhibited an unexpected property of clumping, preventing enough friction of the device to push itself more than 14 inches below the surface.
In January, NASA announced that it was abandoning Mole. However, the Insight mission has been extended until December 2022, with the aim of collecting more seismic data.
Now InSight will have to Survive a Mars winter. Dust-covered solar panels now generate only 27 percent of the energy they did when they were new and clean. None of the hundreds of dust devils — tiny tornado whirlwinds — got close enough to blow off the dust. So mission managers are figuring out how to operate the spacecraft with less energy, including by turning off some scientific instruments. That should be enough to keep him from freezing to death, which it was Fate rover opportunity for NASA in 2018 After a planet-wide dust storm surrounded him.