Perseverance rover on Mars (was: Mars lander set for Feb 18th landing)

Nova just released a very good program on this mission - they had some footage of the landing I had not seen yet.

One of the questions I have for the scientists here - in the program they explained about the experiment for converting CO2 into O2 - why could they not test that technology here on Earth? Maybe they have, but it would seem our troubles with CO2 are more imminent that solving that problem on Mars for future use.

It’s not really a technology that is untested, we know how to do it on Earth. It is testing it in that we are trying to do it in an entirely new environment, with compact equipment that made a journey for millions of miles and months through the depth of space. That’s the test.

We can do it here on Earth, but it would almost be entirely useless as a means of carbon capture, as it would require far more energy to put in than other means, and unless the energy is coming entirely from renewables, would be a net carbon output.

It has uses on Mars, as if we want to put any sort of life there, we need oxygen to breathe.

Agree. In the Nova program, the primary use for oxygen creation was for the massive amounts needed for fuel to propel rockets back toward earth (rather than carry it along from start to finish).

I have only a very superficial knowledge about the oxygen generation experiment, but I’m sure it has been tested on Earth – extensively. It wouldn’t be hard to create a cold vacuum chamber and pump in 98% CO2 at 1% of Earth atmospheric pressure and at least do a proof-of-concept in Mars-like conditions. However the point is to test it in an actual Mars environment before building – and relying on – large-scale versions for actual production use.

The other point is that this technology has little to no relation to Earth-based carbon capture schemes. The Mars atmosphere is 98% CO2 and much thinner than Earth’s, whereas on Earth, as hugely significant to climate as CO2 is, the absolute amount in the atmosphere is essentially a trace gas at a little over 400 ppm. So in terms of extraction, it’s a totally different animal. The Mars experiment is based on solid oxide electrolysis of CO2, whereas practical schemes for direct air capture of CO2 on earth are based on a couple of different chemical-based technologies. Not to mention that the solid oxide electrolysis scheme transforms CO2 into O2 and CO – poisonous carbon monoxide. Which is fine on Mars since the atmosphere is already laced with CO. Practical DAC schemes on Earth are oriented either to producing synthetic fuel or outright carbon sequestration.

Thank you for that explanation - makes sense to me now.

OI, Bill !
You can save us some time & money …
Is there any life up there ?

Barnacle Bill (it/they) here.

I guess what you’re saying is, you want me to provide free content. Apparently you have decided that I ought to have a lot of interesting stories to tell about my time here, and thus I should be only too glad to hand them over to you, sans compensation of any sort, because it would be a nice thing for me to do - as a “favor” to you, a stranger. With no obligation on your part to reciprocate. And my doing this would release you from the annoyance and expense of investigating these things on your own. Because this would be good for you. And you feel no need to make the least goddam effort to show the tiniest sliver of respect, since obviously to you I am a complete, pathetic waste of time. Am I getting close? In the ballpark? Scratching the surface? Circling then drain?


Nah, we just wanted to have a chat.

I thought you said you were lonely.

We’ll leave you alone now.

A simple Yes or No would suffice.

And i’d be happy to reciprocate. In fact, i’ll go first …
Yes, there is some sort of life here. (earth (3rd planet from sun))

No intelligent life, though

I read that it will be a month or so before the helicopter is sent on its first flight. Why wait so long? Is it because it is a tech demo and not an essential part of the mission?

There’s a lot of prep beforehand. First, we have essential checkouts and commissioning of the vehicle and transition it to the surface flight software (from the software that flew us to Mars), then checking out the driving capability, finding a suitable place to do the helicopter experiment, etc. All that stuff takes a little while, but the helicopter experiment will still happen near the beginning of the nearly-two-year prime mission of the rover.

I think this landing is so fun and exciting! Well done!

Just being careful. They have the time. Get it right.

Flying a remote helicopter/drone on MARS is such a cool thing. I suppose the person that came up with the idea at first got a chorus of “Are you NUTS”. But then thought about it a bit.

And then a bit more…

Probably one of the more complex things we have attempted, and I’m including landing the rover in the first place.

If nothing else, they need to make sure that the microphones are working so that we can record the sound of the first drone crashing on another planet.


Welcome, RetiredButWorking!

As to why we run these crazy cool experiments: The United Federation of "hold my beer, I got this" - Album on Imgur

Any ETA when Percy starts moving? I know the ground software has to be loaded, and a lot of systems need to be checked, but am curious.


My guess is probably not – the helicopter was a relatively minor investment compared to the rest of the mission. But I do remember some senior guy – someone like the deputy project manager for the mission – recounting how “are you NUTS?” was the reaction when the skycrane was first proposed for the Curiosity rover. It just intuitively seems like such a Rube Goldbergian overly complex method of getting a rover to the surface. But the irrefutable response was, “OK. Suggest a better method.” Both Curiosity and Perseverance are large, heavy vehicles. It’s hard to think of a simple alternative. And both times, it worked perfectly, 2 for 2 so far, a pretty good record!