Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

It’s drill time for Perseverance!

The Perservance science team is preparing the rover for its first drill hole and the first collection of a sample to cache so that a future spacecraft can return it to Earth.

They are presently at the general location where they wish to drill, and are looking for the exact right spot.

The sampling sequence begins with the rover placing everything necessary for sampling within reach of its 7-foot (2-meter) long robotic arm. It will then perform an imagery survey, so NASA’s science team can determine the exact location for taking the first sample, and a separate target site in the same area for “proximity science.”

“The idea is to get valuable data on the rock we are about to sample by finding its geologic twin and performing detailed in-situ analysis,” said science campaign co-lead Vivian Sun, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “On the geologic double, first we use an abrading bit to scrape off the top layers of rock and dust to expose fresh, unweathered surfaces, blow it clean with our Gas Dust Removal Tool, and then get up close and personal with our turret-mounted proximity science instruments SHERLOC, PIXL, and WATSON.”

“After our pre-coring science is complete, we will limit rover tasks for a sol, or a Martian day,” said Sun. “This will allow the rover to fully charge its battery for the events of the following day.”

Sampling day kicks off with the sample-handling arm within the Adaptive Caching Assembly retrieving a sample tube, heating it, and then inserting it into a coring bit. A device called the bit carousel transports the tube and bit to a rotary-percussive drill on Perseverance’s robotic arm, which will then drill the untouched geologic “twin” of the rock studied the previous sol, filling the tube with a core sample roughly the size of a piece of chalk.

Perseverance’s arm will then move the bit-and-tube combination back into bit carousel, which will transfer it back into the Adaptive Caching Assembly, where the sample will be measured for volume, photographed, hermetically sealed, and stored. The next time the sample tube contents are seen, they will be in a clean room facility on Earth, for analysis using scientific instruments much too large to send to Mars.

Not all drill samples will be cached in this manner.

With this press release and press conference NASA continued to push the fiction to the press that Perservance’s prime mission is to search for life. That is a lie designed to catch the interest of ignorant journalists who don’t know anything. The rover’s real mission is to study the overall Martian geology in Jezero Crater in order to better under the planet’s present geology as well as the geological history that made it look like it does today.

If the scientists using Perseverance find evidence of life, wonderful, but that is not their prime goal.


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  • Willi

    “It’s drill time for Perservance!”
    Shouldn’t it be Perseverance?

  • Willi: Yeah, it should. Fixed. Thank you.

  • Alex Andrite

    ok ok ok ….
    Now will one of you submit a brief summary using only the acronyms asap ?

    Please , before the entire thing becomes fubar.

  • Alex, if you insist:

    The sampling sequence begins with the rover placing everything necessary for sampling within reach of its 7-foot (2-meter) long robotic arm. It will then perform an imagery survey, so NASA’s science team can determine the exact location for taking the first sample, and a separate target site in the same area for “proximity science.”

    The ISS begins with PMR placing everything necessary within reach of the RRA. It will then perform an IIS, so the NST can determine the exact locations of the PTS and the STS, for the PSE.

    And that’s hardly trying :)

    My favorites are nested acronyms. I worked at the RSSF, which is (or was) the ROCC System Support Facility. To be fair, you have to admit that Regional Operational Control Center System Support Facility is just a bit much for daily use.

  • Derek

    Why did the drill bit come off?

    Hope this is to plan.

  • Derek: Oh my, thank you for noticing. I hadn’t yet gotten to reviewing today’s new images. You are really referring specifically to this image:

    This might not be a failure. It could be this is a step in gathering a sample for caching and later pick-up, but if so this method is very surprising. I did some quick research and could find no description from NASA that included the core sample remaining in the ground like this. Their descriptions all imply the core sample is drilled, and then the robot arm lifts it up and puts it inside Perseverance.

    This needs some confirmation. I am skeptical something has gone wrong but we shall see.

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