NASA's newest Mars rover has now hit the first big milestone since its successful landing. While the rover is supposed to be active for years space has shown time and time again how even the best-laid plans can go sideways. Perseverance has now lasted 100 days on the surface of Mars and has already done amazing groundbreaking work. In the first 100 days over 75,000 imagines have been sent back to Earth for analysis, the Ingenuity helicopter was successfully deployed and monitored, and the first audio recording was sent back to Earth from the planet.
Like I mentioned earlier the rover is expected to continue functioning for years to come so this is only the beginning of its discoveries. It has also produced oxygen and so with the helicopter part of the rover's mission coming to an end, it will be fascinating to see what else this rover finds, hears, or does! It is taking helping NASA take a huge step in hopefully one day soon being able to put a man on Mars or at least travel past the moon!
Ingenuity's Wild Ride
Ingenuity has already surpassed all of its expectations and so it is getting a new lease on life until it finally either does crazy or dies in some battery-related issue way. Its first flight with this new life extension, flight number six, well it decided to give scientists and engineers a wild ride itself! The flight was much of the same with the helicopter continuing to move further away from the rover and to explore areas the rover may not be able to. This is being done in anticipation of future helicopters landing on Mars and where to send them to investigate things.
54 seconds into the flight the helicopters' onboard computer suffered a glitch. Ingenuity uses a combined system that has one side that keeps track of its movements (acceleration, rotation, etc.) and another system that analyses the photographs the helicopter sends the computer to figure out where it is in space. Well, the issue occurred due to somehow a photo in the stream not making it to the computer so there was an interruption. This missing image threw off the entire information stream that the helicopter had and easily could have crashed it. Luckily for scientists, it was able to land still all by itself. however, it did miss its target by 16 feet or 5 meters. Since it was 33 feet or 10 meters in the air when this all occurred it even adds to how crazy it was and I can only imagine the look on the faces of the people getting this initial data back and going oh crap it's gone for sure.
Blue Origin's Senate Funding Showdown
It has not been talked about much in public when a certain party starts showing some fracture lines but with Blue Origin that is the case. Earlier this month an Act was rolled out to keep America at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation across a variety of sectors. This is something both political parties want so it will be passed at some point.
When Blue Origin though lost its contract to SpaceX for the lunar lander system Democratic Senator Cantwell from Washington State, where Blue Origins corporate offices are, teamed up with Republican Senator Wicker to ad additional funding to the lunar lander program to really get another company working on it beside SpaceX. Initially, when I read about this amendment it made a bunch of sense to me and I did not think anything of it as Sen. Cantwell is the head of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee so it seemed like an easy idea to get through and one that could benefit states like Texas where so much of Blue Origin is operating from.
Then came along "Independent" or Progressive Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders added a new amendment to the bill. He honestly called it "To eliminate the multi-billion dollar Bezos Bailout." and its whole purpose is to strike the additional funding for the Artemis Program which is the overall head of the lunar lander program. It is no secret that Sen. Sanders does not like Billionaire however so far he has not really gone on record against his fellow Democrats in the Senate. With a majority that only exists because the Vice President is a Democrat and can cast the tie-breaking vote, both sides have to be united. I have no idea how this could end up as it would have been pretty easy to get the additional funding for NASA's space program but if Senator Sanders causes too many issues it could affect the House of Representatives where Progressives have a much bigger say.