Perseverance recently made a huge breakthrough on Mars, discovering evidence of flash flooding on the planet. The discovery comes from research based on photos the rover took during its February landing; NASA scientists came to the flash flood conclusion because of the existence of sediment at the end of a now-barren river bed. The river fed into the Jezero Crater, the area of Mars that Perseverance is studying.
It is believed that at one time, Mars’ thick atmosphere had the ability to hold vast quantities of water. The Perseverance team at NASA has been exploring the river delta in and around the Jezero Crater because of the possibility for fossils.
Nicolas Mangold from the Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique said of the flash flooding, “We saw distinct layers in the scarps [escarpments] containing boulders up to 5 feet across that we knew had no business being there.”
This discovery is crucial when it comes to speculating about previous life on Mars. NASA plans to send spacecraft to Mars next to recover the rock samples from Perseverance for further study.
NASA Moves Two Astronauts from Boeing to SpaceX
In a fortuitous turn of events for SpaceX, NASA reassigned astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann from the delayed Boeing Starliner to SpaceX for their Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station.
In a recent press release, NASA stated it was important to “allow Boeing time to complete the development of Starliner while continuing plans for astronauts to gain spaceflight experience for the future needs of the agency’s missions.”
The Boeing Starliner project has been beset with delays and issues since its inception, it seems. In July, NASA scrapped an unmanned Starliner flight to the ISS, Orbital Flight-Test 2. After a thunderstorm, engineers discovered13 stuck valves in the service module, according to Telangana Today.
In August, there were issues with the propulsion system, and the mission was scrapped again. In 2019, during the initial test flight, there were problems with the thrusters. Starliner didn’t have enough fuel to make low Earth orbit, according to Phys.org.
The Starliner is going back to the lab for this one; engineers are trying to figure out how to fix the current stuck valve issue. The project could be set back until next year at the latest, but the timeline is unclear. Additionally, NASA is hoping to launch Starliner after the Lucy probe; Lucy has a launch window from mid-October to early November of this year.
The Lucy probe is being sent off to study the Trojan asteroids surrounding Jupiter. The mission will help NASA scientists discover how the planets formed and how they ended up in their current orbits and positions. Lucy launches on October 16 at 5:30 am from Cape Canaveral.