• Post category:Space Exploration
  • Reading time:4 mins read

Perseverance has arrived on Mars and is doing a ton of work. Let’s see in this article how Perseverance is working alone on the red planet.

Perseverance Rover on Mars
Perseverance Rover on Mars

The brain of the Perseverance rover is placed in its main body. As is the case with many engineering designs related to space applications, a lot of redundancy is provided. In this case, the redundancy being — the presence of two brains. If one fails, the other will take over.

Do you feel having two brains is not required? Well, Curiosity is, as of February 2013, operating on its redundant computer, while its primary computer is being investigated for the reasons why it started to fail.

So, thoughts about redundancy changed?

The Brain of Perseverance
The Brain of Perseverance

The Brain of Perseverance

The brain of the computer is called Rover Computer Element (RCE). The embedded computer systems must withstand the high radiation levels and large temperature changes in space. For this reason, their computational resources are limited compared to systems commonly used on Earth.  
Direct teleoperation of a Mars rover is impractical since the round trip communication time between Earth and Mars ranges from 8 to 42 minutes and the Deep Space Network system is only available a few times during each Martian day (sol). Therefore, a rover command team plans then send a sol of operational commands to the rover at one time.

In simple words, the rover sends in various data in form of images, coordinates, temperatures, altitude, etc to the rover command team on Earth. The team then monitors a batch of commands, which the rover then follows one by one.

The Tech Specs

Processor Radiation-hardened central processor with PowerPC 750 Architecture: a BAE RAD 750 Operates at up to 200 megahertz speed, 10 times the speed in Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity’s computers Memory 2 gigabytes of flash memory (~8 times as much as Spirit or Opportunity) 256 megabytes of dynamic random access memory 256 kilobytes of electrically erasable programmable read-only memory.
Also, the Perseverance rover carries an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) that provides 3-axis information on its position, which enables the rover to make precise vertical, horizontal, and side-to-side (yaw) movements. The device is used in rover navigation to support safe traverses and to estimate the degree of tilt the rover is experiencing on the surface of Mars.

The Eye

Perseverance has 23 cameras. Several of them filmed the rover’s Mars arrival, capturing its landing in historic and unprecedented detail (video link here).

 Locations of Various Cameras on board Perseverance
Locations of Various Cameras on board Perseverance

Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity have all captured 1-megapixel images in black and white with their engineering cameras, which assist in drive planning and hazard avoidance. But Perseverance’s engineering cameras acquire high-resolution, 20-megapixel color images. Their wider field of view means that, instead of spending time taking multiple images to be stitched together on the ground, the new cameras capture the same view in a single snapshot. The cameras also reduce motion blur, so they can take photos while the rover is traveling.

Smarter rover cameras are helping to reduce the load. On Spirit and Opportunity, photo compression was done using the onboard computer. On Perseverance, as on Curiosity, compression is performed by electronics built into the camera.

SHERLOC (“Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals”), will be the first instrument on Mars to use Ramen and fluorescence spectroscopies, techniques familiar to forensics experts.

When ultraviolet light shines over certain carbon-based chemicals, they glow much like material beneath a black light. The glow can help scientists detect chemicals that form in the presence of life. SHERLOC will photograph the rocks it studies, and then map the chemicals it detects across the images.

 A close-up view of an engineering model of SHERLOC
A close-up view of an engineering model of SHERLOC


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