Italy is building the robotic "arm" that will collect the rocks of Mars

Italy is building the robotic arm that will collect the rocks of Mars

There will also be a bit of Italy on Mars. The European Space Agency (ESA) has in fact made it known that it has signed a contract with a consortium led by the Italian Leonardo for the construction of a two and a half meter long robotic arm which, by the end of this decade, should land on Mars. to recover soil samples from the planet currently being "collected" by Perseverance, the NASA rover that was dumped on February 18, 2021. "The sophisticated robot - explains ESA - known as the Sample Transfer Arm, or Sta, will play a fundamental role in the success of the Mars Sample Return campaign. The joint venture of NASA and ESA aims to bring Martian samples to the most important laboratories on our planet by 2033. The robotic arm will land on Mars to retrieve the test tubes that NASA's Perseverance rover is currently collecting from the surface. Able to 'see', 'hear' and make autonomous decisions, the sample transfer arm will identify, collect and transfer the test tubes to the first rocket launched from another planet, the Mars Launch System ". It is not difficult to imagine the enormous complexity of the enterprise: it is not just a question of designing a robot that will have to operate autonomously on the surface of another planet, with conditions very different from those found on Earth, but also and above all of making you take off. a return rocket.

Mars round trip, first act: Perseverance The Mars Sample Return mission is actually made up of several distinct and progressive submissions. The first was obviously that of Perseverance, Mars 2020: one of the rover's objectives is to collect at least a dozen samples of Martian soil, and at the moment it is already on the right path. As we told you, in fact, after a first failed attempt, almost a year ago (the rover had managed to drill the rock but then the sample had gone missing), the NASA technicians had not given up and last September 1st they had tried again, this time choosing a different rock, which they had nicknamed Rochette, and had finally succeeded in the enterprise. Then, a week later, the encore: Perseverance had managed to take an intact sample the size of a chalk, a cylinder of 6 centimeters with a diameter of 1.3 centimeters, inside an ultra-clean titanium tube; the test tube was then sealed and secured.

European Space Agency The Fetch Rover (and its arm) arrives While Perseverance continues the operations of collecting the samples, work is being carried out on Earth to transport them to Earth . ESA, which is developing the Fetch Rover, a robot that will have to retrieve the capsules that contain the precious test tubes, takes care of it. The arrival of the Fetch Rover on Mars is scheduled for 2028: the vehicle, according to forecasts, will have to travel about 15 kilometers in total, an average of 200 meters per day for six months. And this is where the robotic arm developed by Leonardo enters the scene: it will be he who actually takes care of the recovery of the test tubes. The name "arm" is not accidental: the robot, in fact, has characteristics very similar to a human limb. It is equipped with a "shoulder", an "elbow" and a "wrist", can perform a large number of movements (it has 7 degrees of freedom) and even has a "brain" and "eyes", that is a set of electronic systems that allow him to locate the capsules (even in poor visibility conditions) and to properly coordinate all the movements for their recovery (identification of the capsules, extraction or lifting from the ground, insertion into the container, closing the lid ).

Back home Once the container is closed and sealed, it will be necessary to return home. According to plans, in 2029 the samples will be placed safely in the Mars Ascent Vehicle (Mav), which will launch from Mars to place the cargo in orbit around the red planet. Here the container will be taken over by the Earth Return Orbiter, another vehicle that ESA plans to launch in 2026 and which represents the third part of the mission, equipped with solar-powered ion thrusters to move into a low orbit and "Meet" the Mav. Then, finally, the actual return: the Earth Return Orbiter will move in the direction of our planet and, hopefully, will land in Utah around 2031. Only then will we be able to touch the Martian material firsthand. We can't wait.

Powered by Blogger.