Just nerd things
Allison Thornton | Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Nerd update! Since midterms have been hitting all of us pretty hard the past couple weeks, I thought it would be a good idea to give you something fun to read about. Well, I think this is pretty fun and I hope you do as well after reading this! Maybe I can convert some people to be space nerds after this — fingers crossed!
If you haven’t heard, a Mars rover landed on Mars and has been vibing out there since Feb. 18. The rover’s name is Perseverance and it took around seven months for the rover to get all the way to Mars. The rover’s mission will last one Mars year (which is about 687 Earth days). Now, what is so cool about this is NASA provides updates of the rover weekly so we Earthlings can see what the hell is going on up there. And let me tell you, the pictures are incredible. As the Photo Editor at The Observer, I am always here for a good picture (or in this case, robot selfies and pictures of the abyss).
The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover has a mission to search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will hopefully allow NASA to understand the history of Mars as a planet. This rover is equipped with tools that will allow it to drill to collect core samples of Martian rock and soil. What makes this rover different from others is that after the sample collection, it will store the samples in sealed tubes for when future missions can bring them back to Earth for further analysis. Perseverance is just one of many missions that will pave the way for human exploration on Mars.
While doing my weekly check-in with Perseverance, the first place I check are the raw images (I highly recommend you look it up). Here you are able to see through the eyes of the rover. I think if you ask any scientist that is working on this project, they would say that they are sufficiently jealous of what this rover is capable of seeing. Each raw image has a caption describing the photo’s contents and noting which camera took the photo. What’s crazy about this is that even though some of the pictures are just of the ground, I am still fascinated by the fact that I am looking at another planet in our solar system. On the website, it gives the option to look at what each camera that is strapped abroad is seeing. Every week they come out with an “Image of the Week” and the most recent one is a photo of the helicopter that is strapped aboard. It is truly beautiful.
I definitely do not do this amazing piece of machinery justice in this Inside Column, and I know you probably heard about it when it landed. But I really encourage you to take a break from whatever you are doing and visit the Perseverance website. By the time you are done looking around, I guarantee that you will bookmark the page and check in every once in a while. It is one of those inventions that you have to truly smile when you see it. You will always learn something new. Humans definitely have their rough edges, but space exploration is truly one of the best discoveries and curiosities we possess. To put in simple terms, this stuff is so cool and I couldn’t help but talk about it for this Inside Column. I wish I had more time to talk about it — if you know me, I’m always down for a good space talk!
Oh, before I forget — not to plug my own stories, but if you want to put your name on the next Mars Rover to take flight, read my Inside Column I wrote back in August. There I give all the details you need in order to hitch a ride to Mars!
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.