UWSP professor gives perspective on Mars landing

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 5:33 PM CST
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - The anticipation of the newest Mars resident landing on the planet’s surface was something many looked forward to. UW-Stevens Point professor, and Allen F. Blocher Planetarium and the Arthur J. Pejsa Observatory director, Sebastian Zamfir was someone who also turned in to see “Perseverance” touch down Thursday.

The mission included a few new pieces that haven’t been incorporated on a Mars trip before. One of which is using satellites that were already in orbit to help with communication.

“It gives perspective on what’s happening with the landing sequence, what’s happening when the machine lands. So we have many more ways to communicate with that machine. That’s a new approach,” Zamfir said.

Mars has had a few visitors as of late. The Arab Emirates and China have both sent space craft into Mars’ orbit. But professor Zamfir says the United States has gotten more familiar with Mars than other countries.

“So far, only the United States has been successful in landing missions that survived the journey down to the surface and they were still operational afterwards,” Zamfir added.

Perseverance is also equipped with a helicopter called “Ingenuity.” The machine will be used to scout out locations around the planet, but is mostly a test for future trips to the Red Planet.

“It’s just a test for now. If proven successful, future NASA missions will include such vehicles that will move from one spot to another flying rather than slowly advancing in a rover style,” Zamfir explained.

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