September 29, 2022

Solar Conjunction: NASA’s Mars Fleet Lies Low With Sun Between Earth and Red Planet

NASAs Mars objectives, clockwise from leading left: Perseverance rover and Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, InSight lander, Odyssey orbiter, MAVEN orbiter, Curiosity rover, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The objectives will continue gathering information about the Red Planet, though engineers back in the world will stop sending commands to them till mid-October.
NASA will stand down from commanding its Mars objectives for the next few weeks while Earth and the Red Planet are on opposite sides of the Sun. This duration, called Mars solar combination, takes place every 2 years.
The Sun expels hot, ionized gas from its corona, which extends far into area. During solar conjunction, when Earth and Mars cant “see” each other, this gas can interfere with radio signals if engineers try to communicate with spacecraft at Mars. That might corrupt commands and result in unanticipated habits from our deep space explorers.

To be safe, NASA engineers send out Mars spacecraft a list of simple commands to perform for a couple of weeks. This year, the majority of objectives will stop sending out commands between October 2 and October 16. A couple of extend that commanding moratorium, as its called, a day or more in either instructions, depending upon the angular range between Mars and the Sun in Earths sky.
” Though our Mars missions will not be as active these next few weeks, theyll still let us know their state of health,” stated Roy Gladden, manager of the Mars Relay Network at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “Each objective has actually been provided some homework to do up until they speak with us again.”
Heres how a few of those Mars missions will be spending that time:

Determination will take weather measurements with its MEDA (brief for Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer) sensors, try to find dust devils with its video cameras (though it will not move its mast, or “head”), run its RIMFAX (Radar Imager for Mars Subsurface Experiment) radar, and capture brand-new sounds with its microphones.
The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will stay stationary at its area 575 feet (175 meters) far from Perseverance and communicate its status weekly to the rover.
The Curiosity rover will take weather measurements using its REMS (Rover Environmental Monitoring Station) sensors, take radiation measurements with its RAD (Radiation Assessment Detector) and DAN (Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons) sensing units, and look for dust devils with its suite of cameras.
The fixed InSight lander will continue utilizing its seismometer to detect temblors like the big marsquakes it captured just recently.
NASAs 3 orbiters– Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and MAVEN– will all continue passing on some information from the firms surface missions back to Earth, in addition to gathering their own science.

During solar conjunction, when Earth and Mars cant “see” each other, this gas can interfere with radio signals if engineers try to interact with spacecraft at Mars. To be safe, NASA engineers send out Mars spacecraft a list of easy commands to carry out for a couple of weeks. A few extend that commanding moratorium, as its called, a day or two in either instructions, depending on the angular range in between Mars and the Sun in Earths sky.
If the groups keeping an eye on these missions identify any of the collected science information has actually been damaged, they can normally have actually that information retransmitted.

While a minimal amount of science data will reach Earth throughout conjunction, the spacecraft will save the majority of it up until after the moratorium. (That implies there will be a temporary time out in the stream of raw images offered from Perseverance, Curiosity, and InSight.).
Theyll beam their remaining data to NASAs Deep Space Network, a system of enormous Earth-based radio antennas managed by JPL. Engineers will invest about a week downloading the details prior to normal spacecraft operations resume. If the teams keeping an eye on these objectives identify any of the collected science data has actually been damaged, they can normally have that data retransmitted.

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