CNN's video should say the NEW land rover on Mars. Perseverance is the new rover. If you're new to Perseverance, NASA offers these links:
- Mission Name: Mars 2020
- Rover Name: Perseverance
- Main Job: Seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for possible return to Earth.
- Launch: July 30, 2020
- Landing: Feb. 18, 2021, Jezero Crater, Mars
- Tech Demo: The Mars Helicopter is a technology demonstration, hitching a ride on the Perseverance rover.
Here's NASA on Curiosity:
Launched: Nov. 26, 2011
Landed on Mars: Aug. 6, 2012
Goal: Determine if Mars was ever able to support microbial life.
Conditions Once Fit for Ancient Life
Active, Ancient Organic Chemistry
NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover performed its first drive on Mars March 4, covering 21.3 feet (6.5 meters) across the Martian landscape. The drive served as a mobility test that marks just one of many milestones as team members check out and calibrate every system, subsystem, and instrument on Perseverance. Once the rover begins pursuing its science goals, regular commutes extending 656 feet (200 meters) or more are expected.
“When it comes to wheeled vehicles on other planets, there are few first-time events that measure up in significance to that of the first drive,” said Anais Zarifian, Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mobility test bed engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “This was our first chance to ‘kick the tires’ and take Perseverance out for a spin. The rover’s six-wheel drive responded superbly. We are now confident our drive system is good to go, capable of taking us wherever the science leads us over the next two years.”
The drive, which lasted about 33 minutes, propelled the rover forward 13 feet (4 meters), where it then turned in place 150 degrees to the left and backed up 8 feet (2.5 meters) into its new temporary parking space. To help better understand the dynamics of a retrorocket landing on the Red Planet, engineers used Perseverance’s Navigation and Hazard Avoidance Cameras to image the spot where Perseverance touched down, dispersing Martian dust with plumes from its engines.
More Than Roving
The rover’s mobility system is not only thing getting a test drive during this period of initial checkouts. On Feb. 26 – Perseverance’s eighth Martian day, or sol, since landing – mission controllers completed a software update, replacing the computer program that helped land Perseverance with one they will rely on to investigate the planet.
More recently, the controllers checked out Perseverance’s Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX) and Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) instruments, and deployed the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) instrument’s two wind sensors, which extend out from the rover’s mast. Another significant milestone occurred on March 2, or sol 12, when engineers unstowed the rover’s 7-foot-long (2-meter-long) robotic arm for the first time, flexing each of its five joints over the course of two hours.
“Tuesday’s first test of the robotic arm was a big moment for us,” said Robert Hogg, Mars 2020 Perseverance rover deputy mission manager. “That’s the main tool the science team will use to do close-up examination of the geologic features of Jezero Crater, and then we’ll drill and sample the ones they find the most interesting. When we got confirmation of the robotic arm flexing its muscles, including images of it working beautifully after its long trip to Mars – well, it made my day.”
Upcoming events and evaluations include more detailed testing and calibration of science instruments, sending the rover on longer drives, and jettisoning covers that shield both the adaptive caching assembly (part of the rover’s Sample Caching System) and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during landing. The experimental flight test program for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will also take place during the rover’s commissioning.
Through it all, the rover is sending down images from the most advanced suite of cameras ever to travel to Mars. The mission’s cameras have already sent about 7,000 images. On Earth, Perseverance’s imagery flows through the powerful Deep Space Network (DSN), managed by NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program. In space, several Mars orbiters play an equally important role.
“Orbiter support for downlink of data has been a real gamechanger,” said Justin Maki, chief engineer for imaging and the imaging scientist for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission at JPL. “When you see a beautiful image from Jezero, consider that it took a whole team of Martians to get it to you. Every picture from Perseverance is relayed by either the European Space Agency’s Trace Gas Orbiter, or NASA’s MAVEN, Mars Odyssey, or Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. They are important partners in our explorations and our discoveries.”
The sheer volume of imagery and data already coming down on this mission has been a welcome bounty for Matt Wallace, who recalls waiting anxiously for the first images to trickle in during NASA’s first Mars rover mission, Sojourner, which explored Mars in 1997. On March 3, Wallace became the mission’s new project manager. He replaced John McNamee, who is stepping down as he intended, after helming the project for nearly a decade.
“John has provided unwavering support to me and every member of the project for over a decade,” said Wallace. “He has left his mark on this mission and team, and it has been my privilege to not only call him boss but also my friend.”
Touchdown Site Named
With Perseverance departing from its touchdown site, mission team scientists have memorialized the spot, informally naming it for the late science fiction author Octavia E. Butler. The groundbreaking author and Pasadena, California, native was the first African American woman to win both the Hugo Award and Nebula Award, and she was the first science fiction writer honored with a MacArthur Fellowship. The location where Perseverance began its mission on Mars now bears the name “Octavia E. Butler Landing."
Official scientific names for places and objects throughout the solar system – including asteroids, comets, and locations on planets – are designated by the International Astronomical Union. Scientists working with NASA’s Mars rovers have traditionally given unofficial nicknames to various geological features, which they can use as references in scientific papers.
“Butler’s protagonists embody determination and inventiveness, making her a perfect fit for the Perseverance rover mission and its theme of overcoming challenges,” said Kathryn Stack Morgan, deputy project scientist for Perseverance. “Butler inspired and influenced the planetary science community and many beyond, including those typically under-represented in STEM fields.”
“I can think of no better person to mark this historic landing site than Octavia E. Butler, who not only grew up next door to JPL in Pasadena, but she also inspired millions with her visions of a science-based future,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science. “Her guiding principle, ‘When using science, do so accurately,’ is what the science team at NASA is all about. Her work continues to inspire today’s scientists and engineers across the globe – all in the name of a bolder, more equitable future for all.”
Butler, who died in 2006, authored such notable works as “Kindred,” “Bloodchild,” “Speech Sounds,” “Parable of the Sower,” “Parable of the Talents,” and the “Patternist” series. Her writing explores themes of race, gender, equality, and humanity, and her works are as relevant today as they were when originally written and published.
More About the Mission
A key objective of Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.
For more about Perseverance:
For more information about NASA’s Mars missions, go to:
To see images as they come down from the rover and vote on the favorite of the week, go to:
I had an e-mail asking if I was going to note Joe Biden with regards to NASA?
Not in a positive way. I don't see the need to rip other nations or try to claim space for the US. Accomplishments should be applauded but some of Joe's remarks bordered on xenophobia.
As for when he spoke to the Indian-American NASA engineer? His comments about immigrants from India taking over the country were probably meant in jest. However, consider his past remarks.
His remark that "you cannot go to a 7-Eleven (a convenience store) or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent" was only meant to point out that the Indian American community in Delaware now included middle and lower middle class families besides the predominantly engineers and scientists earlier, he said.
On a recent edition of the C-SPAN series "Road to the White House," the leading Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was shown shaking hands with a man and talking about his support among Indian Americans.
"I've had a great relationship. In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking," Biden said.
Had he not made the comments he made, I would've been glad to note Joe's NASA remarks.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, March 5, 2021. Pope Francis has arrived in Iraq while, in the US, Joe Biden's bombing of Syria continues to be an issue.
History was made today as Pope Francis arrived in Iraq becoming the first ever pope to visit the country. A greeting ceremony including music and dance.
Of the warm greeting and dancing provided to the Pope, Rasha al-Aqeedi Tweets:
An Alitalia plane carrying him, his entourage, a security detail and about 75 journalists, touched down at Baghdad International Airport slightly ahead of schedule just before 2:00pm local time on Friday.
Iraq is deploying thousands of additional security personnel to protect the 84-year-old during his three-day visit, which comes after a spate of rocket and suicide bomb attacks raised fears for his safety.
Linda Bordoni (VATICAN NEWS) offers the following details:
Welcoming Pope Francis on the tarmac was a group of religious and political authorities representing the many different realities of Iraq's diverse make-up, as well as a group of Iraqi citizens and two children with a posy of flowers for the Holy Father.
The welcoming delegation included the Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq, Archbishop Mitja Leskovar, as well as representatives of the Chaldean Archeparchy of Baghdad, the Latin Archdiocese of Baghdad, the Syriac Archeparchy of Baghdad, and the Armenian Archeparchy of Baghdad, as well as the country’s Prime Minister, Mustafa Abdellatif Mshatat, the President of the Republic and his wife.
On his flight Friday to Baghdad for a March 5-8 historic visit to Iraq, Pope Francis told journalists that this is an “emblematic” trip and that is also a “duty” to visit this “land martyred for so many years.”
His comments came as he greeted the 74 journalists from 13 nations flying with him from Rome to Baghdad, before proceeding to thank each reporter individually, always wearing a facemask and keeping a social distance due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
Both the pope and all those traveling with him on the Alitalia flight AZ4000 were inoculated against the coronavirus ahead of the apostolic visit, the first in 15 months.
[. . .]
The pontiff has a busy schedule ahead: on Friday he’s meeting civil authorities at the presidential and the local religious community in the Syro-Catholic cathedral where 48 Catholics were martyred during Mass in 2010.
On Saturday he’s going to Najaf, a holy city for Shite Islam, where he will meet Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Later that morning, he will lead an interreligious prayer in the ruins of the City of Ur, considered the birthplace of Abraham, father of believers. Lastly, on Saturday, he will become the first pope to celebrate Mass in the Chaldean Catholic rite.
On Sunday, last full day of his visit, he will focus his attention almost exclusively on the embattled Christian community, visiting the Nineveh Plain, including the cities of Qaraqosh and Mosul, decimated by ISIS, and celebrate Mass for 10,000 people in a stadium in Erbil, capital of the northern autonomous region of Kurdistan.
Security has been tightened for the papal visit. Francesco Bongarra (ARAB NEWS) notes, "Iraq is deploying thousands of additional security personnel to protect Pope Francis during his four-day visit, which comes after a spate of rocket and suicide bomb attacks raised fears for the Catholic leader’s safety.A senior security official who has been briefed on the security plan said that forces involved had been trained to deal with worst-case scenarios, from street battles to bombings and rocket attacks." Rasha al-Aqeedi reports on one threat made against the Pope:
Source from Baghdad: Unknown assailants leave threats on the walls of the Armenian Club in Karradah saying they will blow up the place and the Pope. Police have secured the area and viewed security cams to identify the mob.
Along with threats, there were announced cease-fires. RUDAW reports:
The Iraqi militia group that last month fired rockets at Erbil announced
a ceasefire during this weekend’s historic visit from Pope Francis.
Saraya Awlia al-Dam (Guardians of Blood) said in a statement published Thursday on Telegram channels affiliated with Iraq militia groups that they welcome the pope's visit and "will stop all types of military action during the visit of the pope of the Vatican out of respect for [Grand Ayatollah Ali] al-Sistani."
Elise Ann Allen of CRUX speaks with Australia's ABC Yvonne Yong about the visit and its significance.
Pope Francis' visit comes a week after US President Joe Biden bombed Syria for . . . the belief that Iran was behind some bombings in . . . Iraq. Gary Leupp (COUNTERPUNCH) observes:
On 2/25 the U.S. under new President Biden launched missile strikes on a site in SYRIA (where the U.S. has troops illegally operating, still attempting to effect regime change) to kill IRAQIS to (as Secretary of “Defense” Lloyd Austin explains it) send a “message to IRAN” that it “can’t act with impunity.” That is: the U.S. will interpret the actions of any Shiites in the world against its own (real or imagined) interests as “Iranian” acts of impunity against itself. It will continue to stupidly conflate Iraqi Shiites, Syrian Alewites, Yemeni Zaidis and Iranian Twelvers swallowing the (Wahhabist Sunni) Saudi propaganda about a threatening “Shiite crescent” from the Mediterranean to central Afghanistan.
U.S. news anchors and talking heads will continue to carelessly substitute “Iranian militia” for “Iraqi militia” not even noticing nor caring if they err. There is no law in this country of lies, in this season of lies, that prevents someone like CNN’s Richard Engel from constructing a story about Iranian provocation and leaving out all the points made above.
What, you thought the lies were over with Trump gone? You thought Biden was going to be a straight-shooter, and would— while handling the burning issue of structural racism in this country—also end a century and a half of imperialist aggression based on lies? You thought maybe the critic of racism and police murder would become the critic of imperialism, regime change, and the sort of racist essentializing applied the Iran and Arab Shiites?
Consider this: Gen. Austin thanked the Iraqi government for its cooperation in planning the attack to send the message to Iran. Never mind that Iran has actually since the U.S. election discouraged any actions against U.S. troops in Iraq. Never mind that the Iraqi government issued a denial of any consultations with the U.S. in the attack. (Pentagon press secretary Kirby had to acknowledge under questioning 2/26 that the Iraqis did not assist the U.S. with targeting.) Never mind that a force the Iraqis want out of their country killed an anti-ISIL Iraqi warrior helping the neighboring country of Syria rid itself of the hated ISIL. This is meant as a message to IRAN—to make it clear that the U.S. can act with impunity for the near term, anywhere it wants—under Biden just as it did under Trump.
Kelly Vlahos addresses the bombing and what it means with Matt Kibbe.
US Senator Tim Kaine's office issued the following this week:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN) reintroduced their bipartisan legislation to repeal the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq. The bill would formally end the authorizations for the Gulf and Iraq wars – 30 and 19 years, respectively, after these AUMFs were first passed, reasserting Congress’ vital role in not only declaring wars, but in ending them. The repeal of these authorizations also recognizes the strong partnership the United States now has with a sovereign, democratic Iraq. The bill is also cosponsored by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Rand Paul (R-KY).
“Last week’s airstrikes in Syria show that the Executive Branch, regardless of party, will continue to stretch its war powers,” Kaine said. “Congress has a responsibility to not only vote to authorize new military action, but to repeal old authorizations that are no longer necessary. The 1991 and 2002 AUMFs that underpinned the war against Iraq need to be taken off the books to prevent their future misuse. They serve no operational purpose, keep us on permanent war footing, and undermine the sovereignty of Iraq, a close partner. I call on Congress to promptly take up this measure and for the Biden Administration to support it to finally show the American people that the Article I and II branches can work together on these issues.”
“It has been thirty years since the first Gulf War began and nineteen years since the United States went back into Iraq. In the years since, Congress has been operating on autopilot when it comes to our essential duties to authorize the use of military force. The fact that authorities for both of these wars are still law today is illustrative of the bipartisan failure of Congress to perform its constitutionally-mandated oversight role,” Young said. “Today, Senator Tim Kaine and I have re-introduced our bipartisan legislation to continue our fight to repeal these outdated war authorities. Congress must not shy away from this debate and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to advance this important legislation.”
“One of Congress’s most solemn constitutional responsibilities is deciding when and how we choose to send America’s sons and daughters into danger overseas,” Duckworth said. “As a nation, we are long over-due to have a thorough and honest reckoning about responsibly exercising Congressional war powers, which includes repealing outdated authorities like the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs. For decades, administrations of both parties have kept these authorizations on the books to justify military action in the region without returning to Congress to make their best legal case for the need for such action. I’m proud to join this bipartisan resolution that would repeal these outdated war authorities and I hope we can work in a bipartisan way to address war powers.”
“Congress has a responsibility to not only declare war but also to bring conflicts to a close,” Lee said. “As demonstrated by presidents from both political parties, when authorizations for the use of military force (AUMF) remain on the books long past a conflict’s conclusion they become ripe for abuse, expanding far beyond congressional intent. Closing out U.S. authorizations for war in Iraq is long overdue, and Congress owes it to the men and women who sacrificed blood and treasure to declare victory and come home.”
“The airstrikes against Iranian-backed forces in Syria last week demonstrate the need to review and revise the way in which our leaders collectively choose whether or not to wage war. An initial yet important part of that process is removing unnecessary war-making resolutions that are still on the books,” Coons said. “I’m proud to join Senator Kaine in this bipartisan effort to repeal the 1991 and 2002 AUMFs, and I look forward to working with the Biden Administration and my colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee to ensure Congress plays its rightful role in future decisions about the use of force.”
This bill is an effort to prevent the future misuse of the expired Gulf and Iraq War authorizations and strengthen Congressional oversight over war powers. For years, Kaine and Young have been leading voices in Congress raising concerns over the use of military force without congressional authorization.
Repealing these authorities will not impact ongoing U.S. operations to counter ISIS.
You can read the bill text here.
The following sites updated: