NASA’s Mars 2020 is an ambitious mission that helps pave the way for future human expeditions to Mars and demonstrates technologies that may be used in those endeavors. Launched on July 30, 2020, at 4:50 a.m. PDT (7:50 a.m. EDT), the mission includes the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter drone. Perseverance Rover will search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance NASA’s quest to explore the past habitability of Mars. The robotic copter, Ingenuity, will test the technology to scout interesting targets for study on Mars and help plan the best driving route for Perseverance.
As the mission treks millions of miles over the next six months to Jezero crater, NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System provides us with realtime tracking of the most sophisticated rover and the robotic copter.
According to Fernando Abilleira, the Mars 2020 mission design and navigation manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, Eyes on the Solar System visualizes the same trajectory data that the navigation team uses to plot Perseverance’s course to Mars.
Eyes not only gives the spacecraft’s the realtime position but also lets us fly formation with Mars 2020 and check relative velocity between Earth and Mars. Multiple controls on the pop-up menus will allow us to customize what we see. On the 3-D mode, using a pair of red-cyan anaglyph glasses, we can get a more immersive experience.
Eyes don’t stop at Mars, and we can travel throughout the solar system and even through time. The website uses real-time data and imagery from NASA’s fleet of spacecraft and also has NASA data going back to 1950 and projected to 2050. The location, motion, and appearance are based on predicted and reconstructed mission data.
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