The Weekly Space Recap: September 17 – September 23, 2023

NASA Perseverance Rover Perseveres – September 21, 2023

nasa perseverance rover nasa
Credit: NASA

NASA’s Perseverance rover achieved a Mars record by successfully navigating through a hazardous area of Martian terrain with the help of its automatic navigation system, AutoNav.

The rover’s journey through a rocky area known as “Snowdrift Peak” was made possible by AutoNav, which guided it safely through the rocky terrain not visible in orbiter images used for planning.

This maneuver saved valuable time that would have been spent navigating around the obstacles, allowing scientists to focus more on scientific activities.

Perseverance covered 759 meters (0.8 kilometers) in this region, exceeding the 520 meters (0.5 kilometers) it would have covered in a straight line.

AutoNav relies on powerful cameras and a dedicated computer for real-time image processing to plan the rover’s route without the need to stop and reorient itself.

Perseverance’s dual computer brains allow it to make decisions on the fly, making it highly efficient in navigating Mars’ challenging terrain.

The rover’s recent exploration of Jezero Crater’s western rim, rich in carbonates and other geological features, is part of its ongoing mission to search for signs of ancient microbial life on Mars.

New Potential Nuclear Reactor Cells – September 22, 2023

space flower moon micro reactor rolls-royce
Credit: Rolls-Royce

Scientists in the UK have developed miniature nuclear fuel cells, about the size of poppy seeds, for potential use in flower-shaped reactors on the moon by 2030.

These fuel cells, known as tri-structural isotropic particles (TRISO), are made from uranium, carbon, and oxygen encased in a durable ceramic-like shell.

They are designed to power the Space Flower Moon Micro Reactor, funded by Rolls-Royce and a candidate for NASA’s Artemis program to establish a lunar base.

Each pellet could power a reactor for up to 15 years. NASA is testing the cells to ensure their performance in simulated rocket launches.

These TRISO fuel cells offer a reliable and compact power source for moon bases, as solar power is unreliable during lunar nights.

Additionally, they have potential applications in disaster-stricken areas.

India, China, and Russia are into lunar exploration and potential base establishment.

More Records for the Falcon 9 – September 23, 2023

spacex falcon 9 launch spacex
Credit: SpaceX

On September 23, 2023, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket made its 17th launch and landing, tying the company’s record for reuse.

The rocket, carrying 22 Starlink internet satellites, lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and successfully deployed its payload into orbit.

The first stage of the Falcon 9 returned to Earth as planned, landing on a SpaceX drone ship at sea.

Starlink is SpaceX’s ongoing internet mega constellation, with over 4,750 operational satellites, and plans to launch thousands more in the future to provide global internet coverage.

This launch marked another milestone in SpaceX’s efforts to revolutionize spaceflight and satellite internet services.

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