Updates From Perseverance
New Pictures and Videos
As NASA’s Perseverance rover approaches its 500th Sol on Mars, it continues to return images and science data. To-date, nearly 300,000 images have been returned for analysis by scientists and engineers working with JPL. Those same images are being made available to the general public. In April, NASA released photos showing the rover and the Ingenuity helicopter as seen from space.
Each day, new pictures of the Red Planet are beamed back to Earth for scientists and the public to look at. Additionally, video captured on the surface shows dust storms and the effects of the Martian wind. And who can forget the first audio to be recorded and returned from the surface of another planet?
Perseverance has presented the entire world with a new multimedia experience, enabling anyone with an internet connection to check-in on Mars and see the latest pictures and videos. NASA continues to deliver this multimedia content via the internet. However, the scientists at universities and organizations around the world use that same multimedia data from the surface of Mars to continue the search for life and to prepare for upcoming manned missions.
Motiv Space Systems Enables the Most Advanced Images and Video from Mars
Perseverance has the first camera flown to the surface of Mars that features a mechanical zoom, called Mastcam-Z. Unlike previous rovers that only produced images that needed digital zooming on Earth to focus more closely, the mechanical zoom onboard Perseverance enables scientists and engineers to focus more closely without losing important data to digital zooming.
That same camera system is capable of capturing video showing, among other things, dust blowing across the Martian surface. By observing the movement of dust, scientists on Earth are able to get a better understanding of the Martian atmosphere. Also, the two cameras working together provide the ability to generate 3D images of the rocks, hills, craters, and other features on Mars.
The zoom and focus mechanism, developed and delivered by Motiv Space Systems, allows scientists on Earth to zoom-in and see features as small as a fly from a distance of over 100 yards. That capability makes it possible for Mastcam-Z to provide scientists with image detail that can help them to target interesting rocks for further sample collection, without needing to drive long distances to get close enough for visual examination. It also means that higher-quality pictures and videos can be sent back to Earth for anyone to view and interact with.
Motiv Space Systems also designed and built a rotating filter wheel for the camera system. The filters on the wheel allow scientists to take pictures at different wavelengths, which enables them to perform analysis on the chemical makeup of the atmosphere, rocks, and soil on Mars. The system designed by Motiv Space Systems has positions for 8 optical elements, and involved some pretty serious engineering in order to withstand the environment on Mars and still deliver the scientific capabilities required.
Collecting and Analyzing Samples Using Engineering from Motiv Space Systems
While the images of Mars continue to astound and excite people around the world, the sample collection and analysis capabilities are providing scientists with a new look at the chemical make-up of the Red Planet. During its mission so far, Perseverance has collected 9 rock cores and 1 atmospheric sample. These samples are being analyzed on the surface of Mars, as well as being stored for later return to Earth.
To be able to reach out and examine the rocks and soil on Mars, or to take samples, Perseverance utilizes a robotic arm, just as previous rovers did. The arm onboard the Mars 2020 rover hosts a suite of scientific instruments and tools, which allow the rover to gather data and collect samples for analysis and storage for return to Earth. Motiv Space Systems designed and built the seven-foot arm for NASA, and, like most of the Perseverance mission, it represents a big leap forward in terms of robotic arm technology.
Perseverance’s robotic arm is capable of lifting over 90 pounds, and has precision of less than 1 mm. With its five degrees of freedom and five joints, the arm is being used by researchers around the world to get a closer look at the rocks and soil on the surface of Mars, and to collect samples that will be returned to Earth by a future mission. The instruments housed on the arm are key to helping those scientists determine if there ever was life on Mars, or if life is there now, and that search is made possible through the engineering work at Motiv Space Systems.
Another key piece of engineering technology that is allowing Perseverance to perform the most advanced science on the surface of Mars to-date is the force-torque sensor. This six-degree of freedom sensor provides the rover with contact dynamics data as the arm collects samples. This sensor was custom-designed for the mission by the engineers at Motiv Space Systems, and is capable of providing detailed sensing information, even under the harsh Martian conditions.
The Mars 2020 Mission, Perseverance Rover, and Motiv Space Systems
NASA’s Mars 2020 mission continues to demonstrate the culmination of years of hard engineering work by teams around the United States. Universities, private companies, and NASA teams have demonstrated what is possible when they work together to pull off a mission of this magnitude. And playing a key role in numerous systems that enable the rover’s science, is Motiv Space Systems.
As the Perseverance rover continues to explore Mars, taking pictures, performing analysis and collecting and storing samples, Motiv Space Systems is proud to be a part of the team that made this revolutionary mission possible. The work to develop the zoom and feature mechanism for the Mastcam-Z camera system and the engineering design and assembly of the most advanced robotic arm flown to Mars has demonstrated how NASA’s partnership with Motiv Space Systems has helped to advance the cause of interplanetary exploration, the search for life beyond Earth, and preparation for manned missions to another planet.