Conquer the planet Mars

robot perseveranceEquipped with an arsenal of science fiction to find traces of ancient life, it managed to land on Mars on Thursday afternoon, bringing humans closer to the red planet.

“It is an amazing technological and scientific achievement. We will be able to rediscover Mars with new senses,” said astrophysicist Natalie Owlet, associate at the Institute for Exoplanet Research at the University of Montreal.

Before they could claim victory, NASA scientists lived “7 minutes of terror” between the moment it happened perseverance It entered Mars’ atmosphere at a speed of 20,000 km / h and “descended”.

Their advanced chariot, only the fifth to touch Earth on Mars, has finally safely reached its destination: the Jezero Delta, which may have housed life in the past.

For a large portion of the team, the mission is just getting started. “Our goal is to travel to sample and demonstrate the technology,” said Mike Watkins, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, on Thursday afternoon, with clear relief.

Extraterrestrial life

Farah Ali Bey, an aeronautical engineer in Quebec, is part of the team that has taken control perseverance Upon arrival.

Farah Ali Bey, a Quebec flight engineer with NASA, in front of the rover she controls.

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Farah Ali Bey, a Quebec flight engineer with NASA, in front of the rover she controls.

In an interview with LCN a few hours before the historic moment, she said she was frantic when considering driving the two-ton vehicle that has 19 cameras, microphones and a two-meter robotic arm.

You will spend the first few days making sure that all the equipment is working, then the scientific side of the job will begin.

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perseverance Will come as an enhancement to Curiosity of, else Rover Who has been walking on Mars since 2012 and who has already determined that the planet has the right conditions for life.

He wanted microbes

“Now we want to know if there really is life,” says Richard Levier, professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at McGill University.

Over the next two years, the robot will take about thirty rock samples that will then be returned to Earth within ten years and examine them for traces of microbial life. “We are very limited on Mars. It takes powerful microscopes and laboratories to conduct in-depth analyzes,” continues the geologist, a member of the global team for the Mars 2020 mission.

Here is one of the first images the robot took after its 470 million km journey in 203 days.

Photo by AFP

Here is one of the first images the robot took after its 470 million km journey in 203 days.

perseverance It also carries all kinds of technologies that NASA intends to test, including a helicopter weighing 1.8 kg called cleverness.

“It’s crazy, we have been flying on Earth for only 100 years, and now we’re going to try to fly on another planet,” Farah Ali Bay said Thursday in an interview with LCN.

There’s also MOXIE, a system designed to convert carbon dioxide on Mars into oxygen, which future human colonists could use for breathing, but also as fuel.

“This will make Mars exploration more sustainable,” says astrophysicist Natalie Uwillet.

“Landing” is a new term describing the landing on Mars. The French Academy does not recognize it yet, but it has been in use since at least 2012.

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