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The Greek woman who ... went to Mars reveals: "We saw images from another world!"

The Greek woman who … went to Mars reveals: “We saw images from another world!”

“It just came to our attention then. I was very excited!” We saw photos coming back from another world. “With these words, Eleni Ravani, the Greek researcher who participated in NASA’s” Perseverance Mars 2020 “mission, describes” NEA “the historical seconds in which the robotic rover was safely touching the ground of the Red Planet. The spacecraft had already traveled a distance of 471 million kilometers in six and a half months, with the aim of discovering traces of ancient life on Mars. “Now humanity is one step closer to conquering the Red Planet,” explains the Greek researcher, who has been in “contact” with him in the past: as a planetary researcher and doctoral candidate at the University of Hawaii, she worked for months in “Perseverance”, but before that he had worked for two years in Spain for the “Mars express” mission of the European Space Agency.

“The Perseverance spacecraft that landed last Thursday will look for signs of ancient life on Mars,” he told NEA, explaining the scientific expectations of the mission. “This is the first part of a series of missions by NASA and ESA that will collect samples from the surface of Mars and transport them to Earth.” What is particularly important in this case is where the space rover landed: this is Jezero crater, believed to have once been a lake where life could be harbored, “said Ms. Ravani.” Perseverance is the most technologically advanced space device in history. It is like a vehicle that has many new technology scientific instruments attached to it. One of them is the Mastcam-Z instrument, in the team of which I also participate, which can take enlarged photographs of the surface of Mars. Among other things, it also has a MEDA weather station. The vehicle will take many photos and take measurements with these special instruments, in order to learn more about the area and help us better understand what is happening on Mars. “

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And the people on Mars

But how far are we from human exploration of the planet? “It still takes several years for humans to walk on Mars. However, “Mars 2020” brings us one step closer to that. “Because one of the main objectives of the mission is to help us prepare for this human exploration,” said the researcher.

I will explain to you with two examples what this means: We have an experiment called “MOXIE”, which will collect carbon dioxide from the atmosphere of the Red Planet and convert it into oxygen. This type of technology could one day be used by humans. Also from the data from the MEDA instrument, which I mentioned earlier, we will study how atmospheric dust could affect future technology on Mars, that is, life support systems for humans. The samples that we will receive from the planet will also be based on some new technologies that are necessary for the safe passage of people to Mars and for their return ”.

According to Ms Ravani, the first part of the mission is expected to last … one Martian year, which is equivalent to about two Earth years, “but if the ship continues to be prosperous, it could continue to operate for many years, as has happened”. with the “Curiosity rover” “.

Missions like this require, after all, intense and prolonged work. “I have been working on the project for a few months, but some of my colleagues have been working on the mission for many years. At the time of successful accession, I was also very happy for them,” adds the Greek researcher. “Now A new future opens up before us. The information we will collect will help us to better understand not only the past of Mars but also our own past, that is, of Earth. We hope to answer the question: Was life ever created on Mars? And through this to prepare our next step. We have already started scientific discussions with researchers around the world about the data we are receiving and it is exciting. I hope the rover rises to the surface and extracts even more material. And, of course, bring the samples that you will collect back to Earth, because then the “Mars 2020” mission will be really successful.

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