Mars Rover Space Mission Essay, Research Paper
Robot Cars on Mars: Instruments and Future Advancements
For many years scientists that studied the planet mars have tried to make a remote controlled vehicle that could withstand the arrival, landing, and that could gather useful information that could bring us to understand the ways of Mars.
Whatever info that was gathered has come from Arial photos and thermal readings. The world has made numerous prototypes of different kinds of vehicles that could travel to the moon, but none of them has come close to the newly built ROVER. The Rover is equipped with several different reading systems that I will explain about. There has also been a lot of myths about mars, like what the face on its surface means, or if theirs life on Mars, and with this device we might just learn a little more about those topics.
The overall competition that the rover faces was APEX which only featured one instrument, but the Rover offers six different tools which dig, tell temperature, and if water was once in a certain spot. The detailed descriptions of the tools are as follows.
A pancam is the eyes of the operation. The Rover holds two of these high-resolution, digital cameras on its mast. It has a panoramic 3-D view of mars with unbelievable resolution. It beats the cameras on the pathfinder about 4 times with its resolution. These cameras offer the best look at mars yet. Scientists will see not only where certain Martian surface features around the Lander are located, but also which features warrant further investigation. Pancam imaging can tell the story of Martian rock distribution, dunes, and maybe ancient waterways. Imaging at different wavelengths can even tell about the mineralogical make-up of the Martian surface it pictures.
The next instrument is the Mini-Thermal Emission Spectrometer or (Mini-TES). This operation works when the Mini-TES observes the infrared (or thermal) radiation emitted by rocks and soils. Most minerals have their own distinctive infrared fingerprint and Mini-TES will reveal to scientists what minerals the rocks and soils around the lander are made of. Detecting and imaging thermal radiation allows helps scientists to see what’s under thin layers of dust that cover Martian rocks, aiding in the identification of rock and soil specimens. Located at the bottom of the mast, the Mini-TES gets a panoramic view by using the mast like a periscope.
The Raman Spectrometer is another ground tools, which works as the following. When Compounds and minerals here and on Mars have reliable, identifying “fingerprints” that are detected by observing a phenomenon known as “Raman scattering”. The Raman Spectrometer on Athena’s robotic arm produces Raman scattering patterns for specimens by placing a sensor head up against the sample, shining a small, red laser beam through optical fiber to the object, and analyzing what light comes back. Almost all of the light that is reflected or scattered is the same color, but the scant amount that is different divulges information about what exactly the sample is made of. Whereas Athena’s other instruments provide a peek or glance at a rock or soil sample’s composition, the Raman Spectrometer may be used to delve deeper into the identity of curious findings, or likely candidates for fossil samples.
The Microscopic Imager is a for of a Pancam with an more in-depth of mars. Is a combination of a microscope and a camera, the Microscopic Imager produces close-ups of the rock and soil samples being examined by the other instruments. These detailed microscopic images offer a context for the other data, and helps in determining whether rocks formed in water, as a result of a volcanic eruption, or perhaps because of an impact like a meteor collision. Many of the features of the Martian surface are on a small scale, and the Microscopic Imager offers a way of examining these tiny, almost invisible, details. Whatever the pancam can t see the Microscopic Imager can.
The Alpha-Proton-X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) reads into the rock and with it on the Rover, the APXS can sample Martian rocks or patches of soil that are out of the lander’s reach, and determine the chemical make-up of whatever it’s touching. With alpha particle, proton and x-ray detection modes, APXS delivers data on which rock-forming elements are present and in what abundance with accuracy. This information is particularly valuable in understanding Martian weathering processes, water activity, and the formation of the Martian crust.
A M ssbauer Spectrometer is kind of like a metal detector. The surface of Mars contains a lot of iron, so the M ssbauer Spectrometer is specifically designed to determine the composition and abundance of iron-bearing minerals with great accuracy. Mounted on the robotic arm, this instrument makes in-suit sample surface observations and collects dust samples from the air on a magnet for analysis. Carefully identifying each of these minerals may provide information about early environmental conditions on Mars. Getting a closer look at minerals potentially formed in warm, watery Martian climates might yield clues to the likelihood of former Martian life.
And the last instrument is the collector of the materials off of Mars. The Mini-Corer and Sample Container get a front seat on board the Athena rover. These two tools will perform the task of collecting samples of Martian soil and rock for return to Earth a first of planetary proportions. Separate from the robotic instrument arm, the Mini-Corer drills into boulders and rocks to obtain specimens, gathering data on the physical properties of the rocks as it drills, then deposits what it digs up in nearby Sample Containers. Why drill? The surface of Mars has undergone a lot of weathering by winds, heat, and perhaps water, so what’s on top won’t have as much to say about the history of the Martian surface. The soil and rock beneath the surface, however, tells a story of Mars’ geological history.
After several months of collecting, the Sample Containers will be blasted into orbit around Mars for eventual pickup by a later mission to the red planet.
NASA is now working on a add on to the rover which is called the RAT. Mars is a dirty place. We know that many Martian rocks are covered with dust. Also, Martian rocks might have been weathered by long-term exposure to the planet’s atmosphere. If weathering has occurred, the surface of even a dust-free rock may not have the same composition as the rock’s interior. And it’s what’s inside the rocks that matters most.
In order to look at the interior of rocks, a field geologist on Earth uses a rock hammer. On the payload, the job of a rock hammer is done by the RAT — the Rock Abrasion Tool. The RAT is positioned against a rock by the rover’s instrument arm, and uses a grinding wheel to remove dust and weathered rock, exposing fresh rock underneath. The RAT exposes an area nearly 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter, and grinds down to a depth of about 5 mm (0.2 inches).
The whole point of doing this investigation with the robotic remote car is to see if there was once or still is life on mars and to see if humans could live their one day in the future. The mission the rover will be going on is in another 2 years or so. In 2003, two powerful new Mars rovers will be on their way to the Red Planet. With far greater mobility than the 1997 Mars Pathfinder, these identical robotic explorers will each be able to trek up to 100 meters (about 100 yards) a day across the surface of Mars. Each rover will carry a sophisticated set of instruments that will allow it to search for evidence of liquid water in the planet’s past.
The overall project over view is as follows. On June 4, 2003, the first Mars Exploration Rover (MER) spacecraft is scheduled for launch on a Delta II launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral, Florida. After a six and a half months flight, it will enter the martian atmosphere in January, 2004. In a landing similar to that of the Pathfinder spacecraft, a parachute will deploy to slow the spacecraft down, and airbags will inflate to cushion the landing. Upon reaching the surface, the airbags will bounce about a dozen times, and could roll as far as one kilometer (0.6 miles). When it comes to a stop, the spacecraft will turn itself to an upright position, the airbags will deflate and retract, and the petals will open up, revealing the rover inside. A second lander and rover will follow a short time later. Hopefully the mission will be successful, so that we know more about the universe and so we have a pack up plan for civilization just in case something bad happens. And hopefully we learn something new and usefully for the unraveling of the planet MARS.