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How Science Fiction became Reality- Nasa Explained The recent MARS MISSION, how it is executed.

At the spacecraft landing on Mars, NASA, the US Space Agency, is a veteran. It has transmitted 19 missions, including 10 rovers and landers to the planet.

"It's a very bitter, but very exhilarating, period after the year 2020 we have all been through," Dutta said. "It is very exciting. "They're science fiction come to life, I cannot believe it still happened."

A Mars mission could require up to a decade to get out of the drawing board. In reality, rigorous trials await before it can take off, or, as NASA calls them, "fire, ice, light and sound trials."


How strict are these checks, you ask? It is like a 10K running in spring, 20K in peak Indian summer, with hurdles to boot in the afternoon.

And nothing can be left to chance when you reach for the stars (and planets). And you need to be completely assured that the parachute will sail smoothly even with almost twice the weight to take the spacecraft through the last section.


But it's worth it because it's like looking at "science fiction comes to life" when it comes to the place and when the mission ends up where it is intended.


In a crater named 'Jezero' which means 'lake' in many Slavic languages last month, NASA flight, Mars 20, consisting of the Perseverance lander and the Ingenuity helicopter, reached the Red Planet.


At the spacecraft landing on Mars, NASA, the US Space Agency, is a veteran. It has transmitted 19 missions, including 10 rovers and landers to the planet.


But it is a lot of challenges to land on Mars, with its limited but non-deniable atmosphere, and its distance from Earth.


Two NASA representatives, Soumya Dutta, an Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) aerospace engineer, as well as the Ground Data Systems software engineer Kavita Kaur, spoke to ThePresent about the planning and implementation of martian missions and the accurate landing for Mars 2020 mission.


Read more about Nasa Mars mission-

Planning a mission to Mars

When Kaur discussed the mechanism behind preparing a Mars mission, he said, "It could take eight years to ten years for a real operation to be completed."

She then discussed how to put together a whole universe of teams, each with its own obligations.


The project structure is the umbrella organization, says Kaur. This includes several sub-segments which deal with unique, core functions.


The flight system controls the hardware and design of the spacecraft, checks and incorporates, for example, the payload system, the grounds data system, which delivers software, support, and facilities, and the mission operating system that actually performs the mission.


In addition, flight software is included on the starship, allowing communication and mission functionality.


Both of the above structures consist of several teams and subsystems running in conjunction.


If these frameworks have been implemented, the project is preliminary designed and then crucial design and implementation, said Kaur. The operations are then mounted, tested, and launched. Then, with the launch, which follows the cruise and then ED L, the mission passes through the operations and eventually surface operations while a spacecraft is on Mars.


Entering, descending, and landing


image source- Nasa


The EDL device used a heat shield in Perseverance to enter the atmosphere after which it was thrown away. Then a supersonic parachute opened and slowed down the descent of the spacecraft. Then a powerful sky crane was released which maneuvered a sling rover and set it on the ground at the desired landing site before cutting off its own cables and flying to the safe distance.

This method is similar to Curiosity, another NASA mission that landed on Mars in 2012, but more advanced with more detailed new operations.


"EDL itself has done some things which will actually extend our ability to send missions to Mars," Dutta said. "We can target various Mars locations and we can hit places to which we really want to be reached by geologists and scientists. When, as an engineer, I see geologists on the surface of Mars I see dangers. They are places I won't be landing because for my rover they're difficult, but we're supposed to develop the technology to do so."


Perseverance lands in the old basin of Jezero Crater, an old one scientists say was once full of water when conditions on the earth were more hospitable. Rocks exposed to water are more likely, if any, to keep biosignatures.


The Range Trigger had perseverance on board that adjusted the opening of the parachute. For Curiosity, the speed at which the craft was traveling dictated, but for Perseverance, the distance from the target landing site was determined.


The field navigation also included onboard cameras enabled after releasing the heat shield and matching the landmarks to the existing images. There was also terrain navigation. The rovers were thus able to navigate the intended landing site accurately within five meters.


Most of the testing involves computer simulations accompanied by real device end-to-end testing. For conditions much more extreme than Mars, the rover underwent rigorous testing, described by NASA as "fire, ice, light and sound tests" to ensure protection and survival.


The rover was tested as an acoustic test with random sound waves up to 143 decibels (higher than a near jet engine). The rover was subjected to strong xenon lamps for light and heat testing for days in the vacuum chamber that simulated intense sunlight conditions. The same chamber was cooled to -129o C to measure the strength of cold during the long nights of Mars. Mars has an average surface temperature of -63°C.


In the wind tunnels, the prototypes of the parachute opened after the thermal shield was thrown off — each with a binary coded message reading "Dare Mighty Things." The real parachute itself which was flown into Mars was tested three times using sounding (sub-orbital) missiles with a weight of 37000 kg, approximately 85 percent above the projected level of the parachute.


"We tested it in a way that was higher than ever anticipated for Mars just to ensure our device architecture was what we called a 'margin.'" Dutta said. "We have a wide margin of security in our engineering design, which is very important to us, so that we can feel comfortable sending it to our planetary destination."




Datastream and Communication

The mission operating system will establish processes and identify operating functions approximately six to eight months before launch. They then begin operational simulations at various test levels. These experiments recreate scenarios and the way data are collected across crucial events. The operating team also offers resources and assistance in infrastructure.


During the process, a number of three 120-degree globally positioned antennas - California (USA), Madrid (Spain), Canberra (Australia) - are monitored via Deep Space Network, which ensures that one antenna is always facing a spacecraft at any point of Earth's turn.


The DTE signals are those where direct-from-earth (DFE) signals and data directly transmitted to the earth station for processing, and the reverse signals are transmitted to D-from-earth.


The EDL method is autonomous as operations take place much faster as long as signals are transmitted back and forth. Further, through planning overhead passes of the orbiters currently around Mars, the landing process is meticulously choreographed. Via signals and photographs these orbiters have returned landing confirmations before Perseverance itself could.


The photographs and media from the rover come as raw data, which is downloaded and processed automatically by software via a data pipeline. Before it is processed either in-house or externally, the information will then be checked and posted to the information site.


"The pipeline is all fully automated. Each time we update software, we need to take some human interference, but it is mostly automated during operations," Kaur said.


Goals and future mission

Kaur said that NASA's "major aim" is to "reach signs of ancient microbial life at mars with this mission."


"I believe it's a very basic question which has intrigued humanity as a whole whether there is life elsewhere outside the Earth and we're going there to find the answer," she said.

The Jezero crater reveals a delta and water outflow, which contain clays and rocks with the potential for harbor biosignatures. Perseverance is expected to sample some of these rocks and soil and to also store them for potential sample-return missions in safe containers on the surface of the planet to carry them back to Earth.


Perseverance hopes to discover more with its diverse payloads, while previous rovers like the advanced Curiosity, which Dutta calls "the most sophisticated geologist ever sent to Mars," did an in-situ soil study.


There are two main schemes on perseverance, the sample caching system, and MOXIE, newer and more complicated than the payloads of Curiosity.


The sample caching device is a robotic arm inside the rover that takes materials and stores them in clean sample tubes, Dutta said, different from its main robotic arm. MOXIE is an experimental payload that uses the Mars atmosphere to obtain oxygen in the earth. The MOXIE is a Mars in situ resource experiment. Future missions, including crew landings on the planet, will be helped.


The first week of April is anticipated that the first powered flight on another world would fly the Ingenuity helicopter.


"It's a very bitter, but very exhilarating, period after the year 2020 we have all been through," Dutta said. "It is very exciting. "They're science fiction come to life, I cannot believe it still happened."



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To help their work, Newsmusk allows writers to use primary sources. White papers, government data, initial reporting, and interviews with industry experts are only a few examples. Where relevant, we also cite original research from other respected publishers.

Source- Nasa, The Print


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