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NASA Loses Contact with Mars Fleet – “Perseverance” and “Ingenuity” Are Alone

NASA Loses Contact with Mars Fleet – “Perseverance” and “Ingenuity” Are Alone

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NASA’s Mars rovers are offline because NASA can’t communicate with them. The reason for this is an astronomical phenomenon.

PASADENA – NASA usually keeps in regular contact with its Mars fleet. Three NASA space probes orbit the Red Planet, while two rovers and a helicopter conduct research on the surface of Mars. But from November 11 to 25, 2023, NASA will lose contact with its Mars fleet. This is linked to an astronomical phenomenon: the Sun is then exactly between Earth and Mars – this event is known as solar conjunction.

For security reasons, NASA will not establish any contact with its space probes in Mars orbit and its rovers on the surface of Mars during this period. This is because the commands sent during this time can be changed by the hot, ionized gas that the Sun is throwing into space. This, in turn, could lead NASA’s Mars Fleet to take unexpected actions.

NASA’s Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity small helicopter landed on Mars in February 2021. (Archive photo) © dpa/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The US space agency clearly wants to avoid this – after all, probes and spacecraft on Mars cost several billion US dollars. US$2.7 billion was invested in the latest Perseverance rover, which landed on the red planet in February 2021.

NASA cuts off contact with Mars rovers to protect them

However, this does not mean that the Perseverance, Curiosity and their partners rovers are now idle on Mars. The two rovers will monitor changes in weather and radiation on the planet’s surface while communication is lost, but they will not move. also Ingenuity mini helicopter It should not be started within two weeks. Instead, he will use his camera to track the movement of sand from the ground.

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However, the Mars rovers “Maven”, “Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter” (MRO) and “Odyssey” cannot stop their movements. It is orbiting Mars and is not supposed to crash. Thus, the three orbiters will continue to perform their missions: MRO and “Odyssey” take images of the Martian surface, while “Maven” collects data on the interaction between the Sun and the Martian atmosphere.

NASA’s space probes on Mars have broadcast-breaking missions

“Our mission teams have spent months preparing task lists for our Mars spacecraft,” said NASA Administrator Roy Gladden. “We will be able to listen to them and track their health over the next few weeks.” There will be no contact with NASA’s Mars fleet for only two days: then from Earth’s perspective the Red Planet will be completely behind the Sun – communication is then impossible.

Once NASA is able to fully reconnect with its probes and rovers on November 25, the fleet will first send the data it has collected back to Earth. New work instructions must then be sent to the red planet, which will get Curiosity and Perseverance moving again. (unpaid bill)

Automated assistance was used in writing this article by the editorial team. The article was carefully examined by editor Tanya Banner before publication.