Open Thread: NASA’s Perseverance Rover Mars Landing

OMG it feels soooo good to be able to think about future-looking science instead of worrying about the country blowing up!

We’re waiting now for NASA’S latest Mars rover craft to land on the red planet. Follow along with these videos:

This is NASA Mission Control with a 360-degree video feed (some browsers may not support this):

This is raw feed from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab:

Some of the content may be duplicative, but it’s still exciting to listen to this team as they reach a major landmark in their Perseverance project.

Why is Perseverance so different and important compared to the previous Mars rover missions? From the Mission Overview site:

The Perseverance rover has four science objectives that support the Mars Exploration Program’s science goals:

Looking for Habitability: Identify past environments capable of supporting microbial life.
Seeking Biosignatures: Seek signs of possible past microbial life in those habitable environments, particularly in special rocks known to preserve signs of life over time.
Caching Samples: Collect core rock and “soil” samples and store them on the Martian surface.
Preparing for Humans: Test oxygen production from the Martian atmosphere.

In other words, we’ve moved beyond successfully arriving at the planet, landing, and taking a look around. We’re now ready to engage in the science which supports humans once they arrive in a near-future stage of exploration.

That last goal is huge; if we can’t manufacture oxygen on Mars using the planet’s resources, we’re going to have to bring means to support humans with us in future exploration.

UPDATE-1 — 3:39 PM ET —

10 minutes ago from The Oatmeal:


UPDATE-2 — 3:55 PM ET —


Touchdown!! Perseverance is on Mars’ surface!! WOOHOO!!

Poor scientist calling the tick-tock just gave a massive sigh of relief over the raw feed.

And now they have an image from the surface!

Congratulations, Team Perseverance!!

UPDATE-3 — 4:25 PM ET —

And now the first tweet from Perseverance on Mars!

Team Perseverance has run through their post-landing review. The next phase of the mission has now begun.

Wow, it feels so good to have some successful science under the belt today!

What science would you like to see tackled this year? Share in comments.

108 replies
  1. Pete T says:

    Thanks for the post and good to see you posting more lately.

    “OMG it feels soooo good to be able to think about future-looking science instead of worrying about the country blowing up!”

    What are the chances of applying some of that future-looking science to stop the country blowing up? Not talking politically blowing up – “simple” stuff like keeping the power on in Texas and applying some Green New Deal mojo to the National Grid. I guess that’s political though.

    I did like this most of this from last week’s 60 Minutes – especially the part where he buys about $7M carbon credits to offset his personal carbon footprint:

    Back to

    • Rayne says:

      What are the chances of applying some of that future-looking science to stop the country blowing up?

      Well, maybe not the entire country or planet, but the science behind O2 extraction from planet resources could be used RTFN. I just read an article about disabled/chronically ill in Texas having to ration their oxygen therapy because getting a new tank or refill wasn’t possible. Imagine if they had cheap readily available, solar- and battery-powered technology to extract it whenever they needed it instead of getting a tank.

    • BobCon says:

      In unrelated news fusion power is making strides, to the point where Korean scientists sustained 100 million degrees for 20 seconds right before Christmas last year.

      Obviously this is still a long way from real viability, but it’s getting out of the purely theoretical realm.

      If fusion power becomes viable, the implications for slashing fossil fuels on Earth are obvious. And it may also make any talk of major work on Mars more realistic, since the weight to power ratio for transporting other large scale forms of energy are hard to justify right now.

      • Rayne says:

        I ran into some trolls over the last two days who were pushing fusion for Texas, trash talking about solar and wind energy at the same time; it’s a favorite whatabout for them to distract from fossil fuels’ failures in Texas.

        Fusion is not only a long way off, it’s going to be extremely expensive — nuclear power plant cost without the problem of nuclear waste disposal fission presents. Solar is already cheaper than fossil fuels per kilowatt hour; the only real limitation is battery technology which we need for a whole host of reasons including transportation.

        We need to be asking if solar is already cheaper than fossil fuels, why are we even talking about slashing fossil fuels as if it is a long way in the future?

          • Rayne says:

            I haven’t checked wind recently, only solar. I know the UK and Germany both have replaced substantial amounts of their fossil fuel-based electricity generation with wind. UK in particular has had a handful of days over the last two years in which no fossil fuel was consumed for electricity. They very much need this not just to reduce carbon but for air quality; the horrific Dieselgate scam reduced their air quality greatly over a decade.

          • Chris.EL says:

            Hope it’s not unwanted to share this…solar, nuclear, wind — there are other (maybe low tech) ways to generate electricity.

            First time I saw this it just blew my mind! Since May 2020 it’s been viewed over 3,863,749 times!

            This guy Marty T is in New Zealand

            “Free Power for 16 years from a modified Washing Machine / Water Wheel

            Marty T
            263K subscribers
            Published on May 10, 2020
            I’ve been living off grid for the past 16 years, I make my own electricity using an old washing machine I found at the dump.

            I rewired the smart-drive washing machine motor to generate electricity, the generator is rotated via a water driven Pelton Wheel ( Hydro Turbine ).

            Water goes into the intake, creates pressure due to the difference in height between intake and outlet nozzle. Water comes out of the nozzle at 60psi and spins the pelton wheel which is attached to the modified washing machine motor (now a generator).
            The generator puts out 3 phase ac voltage which is passed through a 3 phase diode block rectifier to change it into dc, it is then fed directly into a 24v battery bank, a 24 – 240vac inverter is connected to the battery bank, 240vac travels up the power lines to my house. I can now power all my 240vac household appliances from the inverter

            It makes enough power to heat my water and run all the appliances in my energy efficient house as well as most of the tools in my shed.

            Occasionally I have issues with it and need to go down to the stream to problem solve, a small price to pay to avoid paying a power bill.”

        • dude says:

          I think attention should be paid to LFTR reactors. Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactors. DOE and the Navy have apparently started (I should say re-started) research on them. I was totally unaware of this technology until I saw a documentary “Thorium 2016” on Amazon Video. Fascinating history. Fascinating potential.

          • P J Evans says:

            I remember reading back in the 70s or 80s about CANDU reactors – they can use depleted uranium, like spent fuel rods.
            But generally speaking, nuclear isn’t going anywhere now. It took years of hearings to get Diablo Canyon licensed to operate, after construction was finished, and San Onofre is shut down because of physical problems with critical parts.

            • AWK says:

              PJ Evans, it wasn’t that CANDU reactors used depleted uranium initially; that is a much more recent thing (Chinese CANDU reactors). From the beginning they used natural uranium that did not require enrichment and the other major difference from American nuclear systems is that they use heavy water rather than light. But they did shoot for energy efficiency even early on. My father and his engineering team created a robot that rotated the rods so that they got used evenly and minimized the need to bring the reactors offline for maintenance. I remember arguing with him in the late 70s, early 80s about nuclear waste and him replying that the battery problem of solar was, at the time, insurmountable. Circling back to space-related matters: it was DSMA’s work on the rod rotators that helped the company then get a contract for the test equipment for the Canadarm.

          • Pete T says:

            In the 60 Minutes piece, Gates talks about which he helped found. Apparently the “big deal” is the packaging of the fuel and cooling it with liquid sodium to eliminate the potential for steam pressure bombs from blowing up reactor vessels.

            While I am way outside my lane here reactors could be placed in the middle of nowhere and the power connected to an upgraded and expanded grid. If Tesla had won out over Edison we might be transmitting high voltage DC at much less loss over long distances instead of high voltage AC. But I suppose we still could and convert it to AC at the more local distribution points. Again – admittedly way out of my lane.

            • Steve13209 says:

              You conflated things. Tesla/Westinghouse won and AC is the best way to transmit power long distances. Tesla’s wireless power transmission idea didn’t take hold, although it certainly works in theory.

              I’m still waiting for cold fusion.

            • Phaedruses says:

              Actually Tesla did win out, he was for AC transmission.

              Edison was for DC transmission which is the less efficient long distance way to transmit electricity.

              • Literay says:

                “High-voltage direct current (HVDC) technology offers several advantages compared to alternating current transmission systems. For example, it allows more efficient bulk power transfer over long distances. However, cost is an important variable in the equation. Once installed, HVDC transmission systems are an integral part of the electrical power system, improving stability, reliability, and transmission capacity.”

                Most of the problems are that we are saddled with an existing AC grid and end users.

          • BobCon says:

            Commercial fusion is a long way off, no question, and the opportunities for solar and wind are so much smarter for our lifetime. When you look around and think for one second about how much unused space there is for solar arrays, or how many offshore locations for wind power are untapped, it’s clear what we’re missing.

            But fusion in the long run has a lot of potential. I’d argue that the inherent expense is vastly less than nuclear — the costs of both fuel and risk mitigation are like night and day. The challenge is getting there, of course. It won’t be fast or meet pressing needs.

            But I also think we owe it to future generations to cut down the development timeline as much as possible. There are big advantages to centralized very low carbon power generation — supplementing solar and wind and potentially tidal and other diffused generation sources. We are leaving a lot to the world of 2100 and if we can accellerate fusion power, we should do it.

            • Rayne says:

              The best scenario for fusion development is for space exploration. If they can make it small and reliable enough for space, then it will be safe for use on this planet as well as planetary expeditions. We need the power for exploration, we’re spending money on development for that field already. Just focus on fusion for space.

              In the mean time there’s no good reason why places which have suffered from drought, excessive heat, and have vast stretches of open space — hello, Saudi Arabia, the Sahel of the African continent, the American southwest, Australia — aren’t utilized for solar collection in a way that both generates electricity and encourages local ecosystem health, or increase symbiotic agrivoltaic systems.

              • BobCon says:

                I think the application of fusion for space or earth will be pretty much at the same time, whenever that happens — the issues of scaling up a small application are probably a lot less than they were for fission. The problem is how to get to sustainablity, which will be huge, no doubt.

                But regardless, one of the critical near and medium term issues will be in much more basic engineering terms — how to rapidly build out transmission infrastructure regardless of source. A huge offshore wind farm or a giant solar farm are both going to be wasted if we can’t get the power into the grid quickly, and if the grid isn’t a lot better at taking over from fossil fuels.

                No matter the source of electricity, if we want to replace all of the old home oil furnaces with electric heat, we have to be able to get vastly faster at upgrading home wiring and deal with last mile transmission issues.

                Fortunately the tech isn’t the big issue, it’s an organizational challenge instead.

                • Rayne says:

                  Transmission infrastructure for electrical grid is easier than it is for oil and gas. The latter leak and spill. The former has potential alternatives like battery charging stations — charge batteries, ship them where needed, return the drained ones.

                  Our bigger problem is the limit of current battery technology which relies on extractive industries. We need to do better than lithium and cobolt — but that’s why I was rooting for fuel cells. Catalysts use smaller amounts of extracted materials and could be augmented with nanotech products.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Motortrend?? Ever wonder how so many completely mediocre motor vehicles became the MT Car or Truck of The Year? Always thought maybe that was a decent question. Especially when Road & Track, Car & Driver and Autoweek so rarely came up with the same “selections”.

                    • Pete T says:

                      @bmaz Your Reply doesn’t have a Reply link for me so here goes.

                      The funny thing is I stopped all subscriptions to car rags quite a few years ago. Maybe 5+ plus years ago. And yet I still get this one. Someone is paying – not me. Never bought a car based on a rag recommendation.

                      The promise of solid state batteries is real. Whether it can be realized…

                      Come on…you can’t wait for EV-F1 ;-)

                    • bmaz says:

                      Such are the problems with threaded comment sections. No, I really do not ever, and I mean never, want to see electric F1. They have some electric junk now, “Formula E”, and it is absolutely horrible.

      • gmoke says:

        Nuclear fusion or fission, in any of its present even experimental forms, is not going to be any real use for decarbonization of our energy system in the timeframe which is necessary, by 2030.

        It is good that research continues and progress is being made but it is not going to accomplish much of anything in regards to climate within the near and, possibly, long-term. Too expensive, takes too long to build, and nobody knows how to deal with the waste (even from fusion) responsibly or economically. Yet.

        Renewables are becoming the cheapest energy source all around the world, batteries are entering the same cost curves wind and solar have already experienced as demand and production rise and prices fall, fast.

        In addition, I’ve been tracking developments in net zero energy building, buildings which provide all the energy they consume, for a few years now (archive available at which has convinced me that, if we prioritized it, we could reduce the energy used in buildings (about 25% of all the energy we use) by 80-90% with the technology that exists now. In 1979, Carter’s energy plan called for insulating 90% of our homes to higher standards by 1985. The last time I looked at the Green New Deal proposed legislation, they were calling for net zero energy in all public housing over a decade. Carter’s goals in 1979 were considerably higher than AOC’s goals today and, when I mention that in some quarters, I’m told “Okay, boomer, we’re tired of hearing it was all better in your day.”

        PS: I remember a science textbook I had in grammar school back in the 1950s which said that fusion energy would be in use by the 1980s. As the saying goes, fusion is the energy of the future and always will be. Glad that research continues but I ain’t gonna hold my breath for fusion.

        • BobCon says:

          They’re only hoping for minutes in the next five years in a lab, so it is a long way off for sure. But so is any meaningful construction on Mars. We really don’t have the foggiest idea how to handle the radiation and distance issues at scale, as well as the associated expenses.

          Shipping nuclear at the scale there is crazy, and the mass of equipment for solar, wind or geothermal, even if a lot of it is fabricated from Martian materials, isn’t going to work.

          I am betting that we will be looking at feasible fusion at the same time as any serious activity on Mars beyond tourism, if not sooner.

          Which is to say long after we are all gone.

        • Rayne says:

          I remember having a disagreement with a futurist about 1999-2000 about the future of fuel cell technology. I thought they’d be commercialized as standardized swappable modules like batteries inside 10 years and my opponent said nah, at least 20.

          Not exactly easy to buy a fuel cell to pop in my car in 2021. Taught me a lot about forecasting and fusion is far more difficult than fuel cells.

          • gmoke says:

            Fraunhofer’s “powerpaste” hydrogen fuel may make a big difference in hydrogen fuel cell development for transportation:

            I don’t know how “10 times the energy density of lithium ion batteries” equals “at least the energy density of gasoline” but we’ll find out if it gets commercialized.

            • Rayne says:

              Oooh “powerpaste”! I like it! Magnesium’s availability would resolve the bottlenecks we currently have with cobalt (largest reserve owned by China in DRC) and lithium (largest reserve in Bolivia which has been subjected to a coup, and next reserve in Chile putting Atacama desert at risk).

              Would like to know what happens to the magnesium, though, as the hydrogen is consumed. The ability to ship this as stable solid in a commodifiable cartridge would solve so many problems, though the next issue is water. Wonder if it can operate off ice, or generate enough heat to melt ice?

              That piece in cracks me up — people really weren’t worried about explosivity of fuel cells because the technology wasn’t releasing enough hydrogen at one time. PEMFCs were more likely to fail than make enough hydrogen for an explosion.

              Thanks for that, gmoke.

    • Rayne says:

      Shocking, huh? Like parts of Arizona! LOL

      But it does feel good to have brain bandwidth available to concentrate on this, more red dusty rocks or no. Whew.

  2. Steve13209 says:

    It gave me chills watching these engineers and scientists perform this task. I look forward to the science that will result from this mission. I told my daughter that it shows that we can accomplish amazing things, but we just need to work on our humanity.

    • Rayne says:

      Look at how much more diverse the NASA team is — Fortune 1000 corporations should look like this, top to bottom, but they don’t. NASA shows it’s entirely possible. This is an example of the work on humanity we’re capable of doing, inclusive, collaborative work which requires a lot of faith in team mates regardless of their backgrounds, just trust in their common language of science.

      We’re going to need that desperately to save this planet and prevent the trashing of another one.

    • 200Toros says:

      Did you see that he is blaming HIS DAUGHTERS for his little jaunt to old Mexico?!?!? Threw his own kids under the bus… But hey, if he won’t defend his wife from attack, I guess it isn’t surprising.

      • P J Evans says:

        Like “Hey, you have a week off from school! Where do you want to take us?” He already knew he had a week where he didn’t have to be in DC, lying his tail off; he had to have made the reservations earlier. (His wife didn’t need him along, I’m sure.)

        • 200Toros says:

          I just can’t stomach how he is saying “Hey, if you’re looking for someone to blame, don’t look at ME, look at THEM – my cute little daughters! THEY are the ones to blame, I don’t have a spine, I don’t make the decisions for this family, they do!”

          I have young kids, and love them dearly, and value their input, but I would never burden them with the weight of ultimate decision making. That is an abdication of responsibility as a parent, in my opinion.

          • P J Evans says:

            I’ve now read that people who have seen the emails say it was put together at the last minute by Mrs Cruz, who invited some friends to go along, and no one seems to have thought about how it would look for the junior senator to take off for a long weekend at a resort, or about the rules at the kids’ school about travel. (They’ll miss another week for quarantine and virus testing.)

      • Rayne says:

        Yeah, because all grade school kids who have some time off from in-classroom learning ask their parents to take them to Cancun.

        He really thinks his constituents are stupid enough to fall for that.

  3. PeterS says:

    Yes, it’s wonderful what science can bring us, on earth and so far from earth.

    Though it is depressing how science has delivered super-computers into the hands of billions and yet somehow made so many of them stupider. I hear things like “science is the new religion”. Which makes no fucking sense! Apologies for minor rant…

    Can I mention artificial intelligence; will AI gain consciousness soon? My suspicion is that free will (or the illusion thereof) is a necessary adjunct to consciousness. So if AI does one day acquire consciousness, and appears to have free will, that should perhaps persuade us mere humans that our own free will is indeed an illusion. 

    Nothing to do with Mars I know, but AI may gain consciousness before we’re living on other planets. Or may not, it’s fun to speculate.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      Don’t worry about AI gaining consciousness any time soon, for all the cool new things that are being done it is still basically an algorithm optimizing parameters in probability distributions, just at a massive scale.

      The bigger problem is perpetuating bias since a lot of models are being used which are either trained on biased data sets, or being used to do biased things more efficiently.

      • John Paul Jones says:

        People have tended to assume too readily that if AI ever comes into existence, that somehow qualities like empathy will be emergent properties. I think it much more likely that if an AI system becomes self-aware, it will probably be sociopathic, aware of itself and its needs to the exclusion (unintended, most likely) of any consideration of the needs of the others around it. What else were Asimov’s “three rules of robotics” about if not building in a rudimentary ethics because a machine intelligence could not be safely assumed to have such features in and of itself.

    • PeterS says:

      Ah, so no-one “bit” on the free will thing. But you see, I don’t blame Cruz for going to Cancun, because he didn’t actually CHOOSE to do it.



      (a joke)

      • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

        Define free will?

        I think if you could perfectly replicate a closed environment and exactly duplicated the state of a human at the start of some unit of time, the same interactions would take place reach time you ran it. same input and same system after all.

        • PeterS says:

          Possibly that analysis ignores the uncertainty introduced by quantum mechanics. Not that I understand quite how (subconscious) thought works.

      • PeterS says:

        Thank you for that. I decided to read it and enjoyed it. Or, perhaps, my subconscious self told my conscious self to read it, while kidding me that I’d made a conscious choice. 

        (“So, about a year ago, I came home to dinner, and I said, ‘I think I finally figured out how the brain works,’ and my 15-year-old daughter said, ‘Oh, Daddy, not again.’”)

  4. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    I’m really excited to see if they discover evidence of ancient microbes.

    Really excited about this mission to Europa which is tailored to sample the plumes and look for active microbe activity:

    It would be something to be alive when the first extraterrestrial life is confirmed!

    Ugh never mind they decided not to fly it through the plumes. It might still find something.

  5. observiter says:

    Incredible, extremely-complex project. They did it!!

    What’s so impressive is the close teamwork involved for such endeavors.

    I’ve worked on development teams creating complex technologies, with some of the engineers and other specialists originating from countries around the world. Engineers from countries that back home would be warring against each other (example: India, Pakistan), but that here the engineers discover they actually have much in common.

    Thank you for posting the Mars landing.

    • PeterS says:

      I wholeheartedly agree with what you say about international cooperation. For example the International Space Station has as far as I know survived (risen above) any tensions in US/Russia politics. So that at least provides another bright spot in the sky.

  6. graham firchlis says:

    Remember clearly, looking up into the night sky, watching Sputnik 1 transit. Picking up the beep on my homebuilt radioshack crystal radio made my 10 yo heart race. Connected to the mystery of the universe.

    “October Skies” on the importance of teachers for our childrens future.

    Thanks Rayne. Gotta find inspiration, can’t gloom all the time.

    • P J Evans says:

      I remember watching Echo transit, a few year later, from the Yosemite back country. (Giant aluminum balloon, in space!)

    • drouse says:

      And here I was going to say something about SpaceX has given the aerospace industry a much needed kick in the pants. Hell, now UAL actually has to compete. They’re not used to it and it shows. You don’t have to like or trust him either, he has politically powerful competitors to at least try to reign him in. These battles are already being fought in the halls of congress and the various federal agencies.

      He has an obsession. As far as I can tell, he wants to be the Emperor of Mars. My feeling is that if he can pull it off, more power to him. After all, he could have taken the usual billionaire track of trying to breed money. Instead, he’s chasing a dream that requires the development of technologies that will be a boon to the rest of us.

        • drouse says:

          Which launches are you referring to? Commercial launch services? Both Starlink and launch services are revenue streams to fund his Starship program. That really would be cutting off his nose to spite his face. Tech spinoffs is a better question. I should know better to expect good sense from a government agency but I would think that there would have been conditions attached to the initial seed money for these programs. Which brings us around to subsidies. Ever since NASA’s turn to supporting commercial space, they have been spreading money around to kick start things. However, none are supported to the extent that ULA otherwise known as Boeing is. As an example, a recent award of launch contracts for the Air Force went 60-40 for Boeing even though on a cost basis SpaceX was better. This is because Boeing has immense political clout and they always seem to walk away with the lion’s share of funding. It’s what we’ve gotten for the money. SpaceX, despite a lower funding level, has given us two mature launch systems with reusable boosters, three spacecraft and the ability to maintain a rapid launch cadence. All in less than twenty years. Boeing has produced nothing but cost overruns, delays and a couple of embarrassing and costly mistakes.

            • drouse says:

              The poop(a good term for speculation and gossip) that I’ve heard that it was more for their market share in small solid fuel motors rather than the F1’s of their heyday. Think hellfire missiles and air to air interceptors.

              • P J Evans says:

                wouldn’t surprise me. There’s not much of a market for Shuttle engines these days, either. (The old location, down on Canoga south of Owensmouth, is still a vacant lot, with no sign of that changing anytime soon.)

  7. posaune says:

    Thank you for this post, Rayne. What a happy event!
    My son raises canaries (Fifes), and one hatched today — he named the neonate chick Perseverance :-)

      • Chris.EL says:

        This from spawn of Tr**p (via popehat) to which Scott Greenfield replied — astutely — “Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, is a Republican.”
        Ha, ha, ha, ha.

        Junior should stick to rambling in the wilderness, unshaven, unwashed, without electricity, hunting for his food; it’s his special place!

        …” DonaldJTrump Jr.”
        “The hypocrisy of those trying to cancel Ted Cruz who have been totally silent on their Democrat Governor’s incompetence is telling. My thoughts on the Cancún Cruz fauxoutrage! #Cruz #CancunGate is fake.”

        • bmaz says:

          Scott and Ken are both good friends. But I think this is a garbage reading. Uday is an idiot, for sure, but to my eye, he was clearly tracking the FOXNews talking point, that I think the RNC got too, that the Democratic Governor is Cuomo, not Abbot in Texas. The gleeful dunk on this by so many people seems meh. And they are not wrong about Cuomo not getting yet enough heat.

          • Chris.EL says:

            speaking of not enough heat … there is a trend to move away from having wood burning fireplaces in new-build homes; I think this is a mistake.

            Folks in Texas (NY too) who are fortunate enough to be able to burn wood, furniture, old newspapers have a little heat — and a little light + joy — with a fireplace!

            Firewood is basically non-combustible as it is transported.

            Just my opinion — as I go about my life in balmy state of California, lugging ~ 500 lbs. of solid walnut to my home to burn in my tiny wood stove.


            “Oct 3, 2020
            Replying to
            “Trump reverse-engineers ALL his positions, starting w/outcomes he wants. Then he builds interval narrative points to get there, cherry-picking facts, patched w/lies. This is centuries-old classic playbook by corrupt people in power who would do anything to stay in power. #CoverUp” ….


            I still can’t believe former pres. Trump has the neural network between his own ears to pull this off; he may have an idea, a desire, but someone else is putting the “plan” into actual actions. IMVHO.

            • P J Evans says:

              My parents had houses with fireplaces in the Bay Area, and they used oak, especially the backlog (which was the one that kept the fire going: unbank it in the evening, bank it when people went to bed, have coals ready to go that evening). Walnut was too valuable for firewood, unless it was old and bug-eaten wood. Eucalyptus and conifers have too much resin to be good firewood. (Fire-starter, yeah. But lots of sparks going up the chimney isn’t good.)

              • Chris.EL says:

                This walnut is scrap wood from a company that mills walnut products. They bring in MASSIVE trees from around California, cut slabs, kiln dry some. Pickup load is cheap. Spring is so close I went with 50 lb. bags of small pieces. They put larger pieces on pallets too. Four feet square by four feet high is about $90 now; solid wood. Produces nice heat — the cats love it. Silly me, I mull over what is it about cats that loovve being warm (like sitting on your head when you’re trying to work on computer or trying to sleep).

  8. rosalind says:

    i can’t find a link, but the two students who named the rover & the helicopter – Alex Mather and Vaneeza Rupani – were interviewed on the NASA channel after the landing, and OMG the two were so funny and articulate and inspiring. hope the clip gets posted at some point.

    • Chris.EL says:

      Those kids are so lucky! One day they may actually *stand* on the red planet!

      Space has always fascinated me … harkening back to the days of the World’s Fair in Seattle.

      From “held April 21, 1962, to October 21, 1962, in Seattle, Washington. Nearly 10 million people attended the fair … The fair saw the construction of the Space Needle and Alweg monorail,”…

      Ah, those were the days? (Before November 1963.)

  9. misteranderson says:

    A few random thoughts:
    -Is it too hard to imagine that some UFO’s are much more advanced alien versions of a kind of Perseverance?
    -I’ve always dismissed human habitation of Mars because it doesn’t have a magnetosphere or an Ozone layer. Two things that we have no hope of manufacturing.
    -I wish they could set up a livecam on Mars. I know there there is a time difference, but it would be fun to get near live views of Mars.

    • P J Evans says:

      AIUI, Mars has a magnetic field – the magnetosphere is the Sun’s. mars doesn’t have enough oxygen (or much of anything else) in its atmosphere for ozone.
      Live camera from Mars is possible – it would be live-as-the-signal-arrives, which is the best we have for anything off Earth. (Back in the 70s, the local cable company got a live feed from NASA Ames of the Pioneer pics of Jupiter. It was interesting watching them appear on the screen.)

    • Rayne says:

      Curiosity rover transmits cam shots. Don’t think you’re going to see streaming video. Right now you can check out Perseverance’s most recent raw images at

      For more Mars-related content: – NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover
      NASA Mars rover. Launch: July 30, 2020. Landing: Feb. 18, 2021. Hobbies: Photography, collecting rocks, off-roading. Team HQ @NASAJPL – Curiosity Rover
      Your friendly neighborhood NASA Mars rover. Exploring the Red Planet since 2012. Team headquartered at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory @NASAJPL – Mars Mission Images
      Posting images from #Mars missions as they are down-linked to Earth – HiRISE: Beautiful Mars (NASA)
      High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA). Based out of the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. – MAVEN Mission to Mars
      The mission to explore Mars’ climate history through its upper atmosphere. Orbiting the red planet since Sept. 21, 2014. Account managed by LASP. – NASA Mars
      NASA’s official Twitter account for all things Mars. Learn more about our past, current and future Mars missions. – LaRa ExoMars
      The Lander Radioscience experiment of @ORB_KSB onboard the platform of the future @ESA_ExoMars mission. Landing on Mars in 2021 – Martian Moons
      JAXA Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission to Mars to survey the two moons; Phobos and Deimos, and collect a sample to bring back to Earth. 日本語 @mmx_jaxa_jp – ExoMars CaSSIS
      The Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System on board the #ExoMars @ESA_TGO. Imaging #Mars through filters: PAN, RED, NIR, & BLU. Prime science since Apr ‘18 – ExoMars PanCam
      The science eyes of ESA’s Rosalind Franklin ExoMars 2022 rover. International team led by @msslspacelab @ucl. Emulated on Earth by @AUPE_ExoMars – ISRO’s Mars Orbiter
      India’s first mission to Mars. Orbiting the Red Planet since Sep 24, 2014. Explorer. Loves science, photography and long cruises. – ESA_ExoMars
      Investigating whether life has ever existed on Mars. @ESA_TGO in orbit since 2016; Rover & Surface Platform launching 2022. Joint endeavour with Roscosmos. – VMC – Mars Webcam
      The Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) is mounted on Mars Express, one of ESA’s deep-space probes now orbiting the Red Planet. – MarsPhoenix
      Mission ended in 2008, but you can follow @NASAMars for updates on current missions exploring the Red Planet- – MarsToday
      News about Mars and its moons. A service of @SpaceRef.

  10. observiter says:

    Gravity on Mars is around 1/3 of Earth’s and the atmosphere around 1%. What must it be like for something to fly in the air there! To design the drone/helicopter, the team had to look at size of blades, frequency of blade rotation, power, weight, etc. Looks like it can’t travel far because its power quickly depletes, so it goes a short distance, needs to stop for recharge, and then lifts off again. It “hops.”

    • madwand says:

      We’ll have to see but perhaps a copter in that thin an atmosphere is not the way to go. Wouldn’t be surprised if they’re looking at other sorts of lift in a thin atmosphere.

      • madwand says:

        That said the copter is communicating through the rover and is still tethered to Perseverance for power. They are charging it up today and it has to have enough power to stay warm on a bitterly cold Martian night and still able to function. The rover will have to find a flat spot for the copter to land and then 5 flights can proceed over a period of about a month. They will be more like hops and maintaining stability will be the problem. If all goes successfully then 90% of NASA;s goals vis a vis the copter will have been accomplished.

  11. Terry Mroczek says:

    Proof of an objective reality! It warms my heart to know that when we focus on data, facts and evidence, we can do amazing things!

    • Chris.EL says:

      If anyone hasn’t seen The Martian (with Matt Damon + Jessica Chastain) it’s a good flick — yeah, a bit of a fairy tale, but fantasy grounded in science, and they all worked very hard to make it so!

      Must have been something to see in IMAX (I only have DVD + cheap flat screen).
      Since growing plants use carbon dioxide to grow, giving off oxygen, it’s a symbiotic venture for humans and flora to terraform Mars.

      Going to be a centuries long effort, but all we have is time — until we ruin the Earth forever?

      • Steve13209 says:

        The movie was pretty good, but Andy Weir’s novel is great. Read or listen for a great story with many more twists and details.

  12. observiter says:

    It had an atmosphere, and then it didn’t. Mars is supposed to be a little older than Earth but not by much. Around 4 billions years ago, Mars lost its magnetic field, somehow. Its core has supposedly cooled down, which I think means it thus would not be possible for the planet to come back to life.

  13. P J Evans says:

    Can someone check the spam trap? I have a comment that got stuck “in moderation” because links (to NASA).

  14. graham firchlis says:

    In other space news the SS Katherine Johnson launced today, a Northrup Grumman vehicle carrying 8200 pounds of experimental supplies and minisatellites to the Space Station.

    Johnson was part of a team of brilliant mathematicians who pioneered orbital mechanics at NASA. She finalized the equations for John Glenn’s first orbital flight, at his personal request.

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