It turns out that Mars can be a very windy place.
The perseverance rover It landed on the Red Planet in February 2021 carrying, among other instruments, a dubbed weather station Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyst (MEDA). This instrument includes two wind sensors that measure speed and direction, among many other sensors that provide weather measures such as humidity, radiation, and air temperature.
Jose Antonio Rodriguez Manfredi, MEDA principal investigator, told Space that pebbles that were moved aloft by strong winds from the Red Planet recently destroyed one of the wind sensors, but that MEDA can still track winds in its Jezero Crater landing area, and that It was with low sensitivity. com.
“Currently, the sensor’s capabilities are reduced, but it still provides magnitudes of velocity and direction,” Rodriguez Manfredi, a scientist at the Spanish Astrobiology Center in Madrid, wrote in an email. “The whole team is now resetting the retrieval procedure to get more accuracy from undamaged detector readings.”
Two wind sensors roughly the size of a ruler in perseverance are flanked by six individual detectors intended to give accurate readings from any direction, according to Materials (Opens in a new tab) from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, which operates the rover.
Each of the two main wind sensors is attached to an arm that can unfold to move the sensors away from the rover while it is driving, because the tenacity of the vehicle’s size does not affect the wind currents with its own movements during Mars atmosphereJPL officials said.
Rodriguez Manfredi noted that the Wind Sensor, like all tools in Tenacity, was designed with redundancy and protection in mind. “But of course, there are limits to everything.”
And for an instrument like MEDA, the limit is more challenging, as the sensors must be exposed to environmental conditions in order to record wind parameters. But when stronger-than-expected winds lifted larger-than-expected pebbles, the combination damaged some of the detector’s elements.
“Neither the forecasts nor the experience we gained from previous missions anticipated such strong winds, nor much loose material like that,” Rodriguez Manfredi said. (He is also the principal investigator for another temperature and wind sensor on NASA Insight The lander has been on the Red Planet since November 2018 and its mission is expected to end this year.)
Ironically, he added, the sensors were damaged by wind, or “specifically because of what we were looking at.”
Besides measuring wind, weather, and rock composition, the rover picks up the most promising material for future sample temporary storage with the goal of sending samples to a land in the thirties.
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