This month's hottest space news is definitely the NASA Perseverance rover mission. NASA recently published stunning audio and video footages from its Mars mission.
However, did you know that there were Australians that took a big part in the Mars 2020 mission?
Australians Behind The NASA Perseverance Rover Mission
Dr Abigail Allwood, a geologist and astrobiologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is the first woman and Australian to be one of the seven principal investigators chosen for the mission that just successfully touched down on Mars on the 18th of February this year.
The Perseverance rover’s main job is to seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith for a possible return to Earth.
Dr Allwood is in charge of a tool called PIXL or Planetary Instrument X-ray Lithochemistry that uses X-rays to examine the chemistry of the samples in the search for evidence of life.
Another Australian involved in this mission is Dr David Flannery who is a research scientist at NASA JPL.
Now based back at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Dr Flannery‘s job on this mission is to guide the team of scientists on the mission where to go and which samples to take from Mars.
He plays a critical role in the everyday operation of the rover and the analysis of the data from various instruments that are on board.
While Dr Allwood’s team focuses on PIXL, engineers at JPL and QUT have been building software that can study the data taken from Mars.
Their plan is after the data starts flowing approximately 90 Mars days after the rover lands, the JPL and QUT team will analyse the data around the clock. So, when the US goes to sleep at the end of the operations day, Australia will pick up where they left off.
Updated Space Agreement Between Australia And India
Another update on the Australian space news this month is the amended agreement between Australia and India in the space industry.
Australian Space Agency and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) both signed the Memorandum of Understanding that will further unlock space collaboration and create jobs.
According to Karen Andrews, the Australian Industry Minister, this new agreement will strengthen the ties between Australia and India in the space sector.
The signing establishes a significant opportunity for Australia’s role in the Gaganyaan mission, which will make India the fourth country to put humans in space.
Saber And Australian Weather Bureau Collaboration
The third news comes from Saber Astronautics.
Full disclosure, Saber Astronautics is an anchor stakeholder in the Wolfpack Space Hub. Dandelions works out of the premises of the Wolfpack Space Hub.
The company that was founded in 2008 is teaming up with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) to have real-time space weather data as part of its new Mission Control Centre.
Saber was selected last year to develop Australia’s Mission Control Centre at the Australian Space Agency Headquarters.
The Responsive Space Operations Centre will be the world’s first professional control centre to use machine learning in daily spacecraft operations.
The BOM has agreed to provide Saber with real-time space weather data that can help diagnose and predict satellite problems.
This information is crucial for RSOC customers who operate satellites because they need to keep a constant eye on their payloads and know what is happening in space.
That's a wrap for February! See you next month!