Mars missions educate, excite those hoping for future manned-missions

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – The first flight of the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars has been delayed while NASA works on an issue with its flight control software. It is the latest in a series of exciting Mars missions.

NASA has successfully landed five rovers on Mars over the last two decades, each with a more sophisticated mission.

“Be it from science fiction, from all the books and movies that are out there, lots of people dream about going to Mars,” said Will Snyder, the manager of the Saint Louis Science Center’s McDonnell Planetarium. “Until that can be a reality, these rovers, these orbiters, these are the ways we’re going to be able to learn about it.”

NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover is searching for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover has a drill to collect samples of rock and soil and it will store them in sealed tubes for pickup by a future mission.

“It’s not just this robotic explorer that’s going to do some work and then be done,” Snyder said. “It’s the first stage of a longer mission, packaging up rock and core samples from Mars that will in the future be able to be transported back to Earth, allowing us to do much more research than we can with the limited equipment we’re able to send there.”

Hitching a ride to Mars with Perseverance, the Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, will test powered flight on another world for the first time.

“Being able to fly we can cover more ground on Mars then we could with a rover. And it will really lay the groundwork for future missions, even going places like Titan, a moon around Saturn.”

But flying a drone on Mars sounds easier than it is.

“Compared to our planet, Mars’ atmosphere is only about 1% as thick as ours. Without that blanket of air, it’s very difficult to achieve lift,” Snyder said.

The Perseverance rover will also be testing technology for extracting oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, which is 96% carbon dioxide. The ultimate goal is to use Mars’ natural resources to support human explorers. 

If you want to learn more about Mars, you don’t have to head to outer space. The Mission Mars exhibit at the Saint Louis Science Center has two galleries full of information and an actual piece of mars itself. To visit, make reservations at slsc.org.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter unlocked its blades, allowing them to spin freely, on April 7, 2021, the 47th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. This image was captured by the Mastcam-Z imager aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover on the following sol, April 8, 2021. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Popular

Latest News

More News