Mars, Nasa, Adler Planetarium discussed on John Williams

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Movie. It's a great book to if you haven't read it, but the movie and the book are are fun and clever and kinda true. And that they said, okay, what would life on Mars bead? Like, how would you could you survive on your own up there? Your head do and then it was sort of crowd sourced and became the book and became the movie. And it's it's all fun, but this isn't fiction now, the insight Lander is evidently on the surface. We reached out to Michelle Nichols director of public observing it Adler planetarium just to sort of put a bow on this thing at least forest today. Or maybe to get started, Michelle. It's John Williams. You're on WGN. How're you doing? Great, john. How are you? Really good. I was so happy because we were able to hear on the radio, you know, sort of the eight hundred meters three hundred meters the landing and then the people and if NASA all cheering, and that's that's kind of the the touchdown moment. Isn't it? It never gets old. Yeah. There was exactly when when you heard it. That's when NASA heard it. So what did that mean though, that was it actually landing on the surface? Then it's it's there and so far so good. So far so good with the only difference is that there's a time delay between the the radio signal going from Mars to earth. So it actually happened about seven minutes prior in an actual real time. But that's exactly when the signal arrived at earth too to when we found out that it was successfully landed on Mars when is it going to start doing the things that it's going to do it's going to be a few months? The first thing they're going to have to do in the next few hours is still is deployed, the solar panels. So it'll it'll need some way to generate energy. And then the over the next few months, make sure that the science instruments are working well, and then they'll be a robotic arm that will actually lift up a couple of science instruments in place them on the surface of Mars. They just need to pick which they want that's making flat. And we'll do what they needed to do was going to drive around. Does it have a Rover on it? This window Lander. So this one needs to be as stable, and it's still as possible. So no wheels on this one. So it has legs and it's just going to sit in one spot. And so do they know I mean, are they tilted are the at an angle is it on a good level area? How do they know that it's not in a precarious position? They had gotten an initial image from the spacecraft right after it landed just a couple of minutes after it landed it sends an initial image. It still has a bunch of dust on it. 'cause there was a dust cover over the lens of the camera to protect against any dust, it might fly up, but initially looking at that image. It looks nice and flat. It basically landed on a parking lot on Mars. So that's exactly where they want it to be. So initial indications are that it is sitting exactly the way they wanted to. But don't know more over the next few hours. I gotta tell you. I just find myself in awe the one derivative if think about like this so somebody on earth hits. The button seven minutes later that signal travels up there and now magically and arm is going to deploy and begin to capture sunlight and charge a battery. So this thing can do things that just just that simple fact, alone is kind of blows the mind doesn't it? Yeah. And you just got to feel for the folks who are on the team that something they built is sitting on another planet right now. Right. This very second. Just got there and got their successfully. And it's just it never gets old. Absolutely never ever gets old. What was the leg? I mean, how how long have these people than working on this? How long does this project? Ben play. A little over a decade. But the some of the ideas for for this space craft in the instruments have been had been around for several decades. There have been people working on this their whole career. And so it's it's never quick to get something to another planet. So they had to come up with the idea, and and propose it get it funded and get it built and tested and the good thing with this one is so it was working on technology for landing that already was used on another Lander called Phoenix which landed on Mars several years ago. So they at least had technology that they knew worked once before. But it's never never done deal. Just because did it before it doesn't mean that it'll work this time room, and it was in orbit for six months before touchdown today. It was on route to Mars for about six months. So it launched back in may. And it basically just it went straight to Mars. There was no no orbiting no stopping along the way. This thing went directly from earth to Mars. How does it know where to go? Oh, that's a great question. It's it's all physics. It's really I think Newton tells us how to figure this out so, but they basically have to pick their spot and work their way backwards and figure out. Okay. If we want to get to this spot, we have to be in this place in space, and then we have to get there this way, and we have to launch date at this time. So it's it's a whole lot of physics equations, but it all boils down to getting to a precise spot on Mars. So in that case, then to get it to where it is just go and land means maybe when you lift off is just as critical because that's when everything. Absolutely, absolutely. Just a very short launch window depending on where you're going if it's into earth orbit or on your way to Mars, they're going to Jupiter or something you're launch window, maybe instantaneous like if you don't launch at this particular second on this particular day. Then you got you gotta wait another day. So yeah, it can it can be a pretty short launch window when people go to the mall, and they drive around the parking lot waiting waiting waiting for a spot. That's what I would have done on this March. I thought well, I'm sure they're gonna fly around a few times. And just like, okay, everybody. Are we ready because? No second chance. Are you ready? But no, they just went straight in. Yeah. They they did that before with the Viking Landers. So the Viking missions to Mars they did orbit for a while. And then they sent lenders down, but the these they just go straight there, if you if you want to stick around in orbit for a while, you need more fuel you need a bigger space craft costs more money all that stuff. So it all goes into into account when they're trying to figure out exactly how they want to get there. So what do we expect to get out of this mission? We will find out something that we have no idea the answer to and that is what is the interior of Mars like you'd think something that that simple of a question. We would have known the answer decades ago. But we don't we need a spacecraft that will sit there we need to understand what the interior of Mars is like now what it was like in the past is liquid is it solid. Are there Mars quakes are there? Other things that can tell us about what the interiors lake so this is an extraordinarily important mission because everything under the surface every single thing under the surface. We we don't know. And so it's going to answer a whole lot of questions. Hopefully in the next two years a little worried about the drill because I don't know if there's a hard rock in the way, or I to me the kind of fraught with peril there how and how will the martians feel? Well, the martians already know everything they know were there. They probably saw meteors streaking through the sky when this thing landed. But yeah, the drill. It's it's hey science. That's what you got to you. That's what you got to hope that you built something that will handle the conditions that you've got. But you're right. If there's some Kuwaiti heard lock underneath then you just happen to put your deal right over it. Well, you're only going about his fires that drill that will let you go. So, but they hope to get that drill down about about sixteen feet. So that would be ideal. But frankly betcha they'd be happy with anything. But sixteen feet is ideal. And didn't a previous Lander on Mars discovered. Some sort of proto organic matter. Do we believe that this is there any hope of finding any evidence of life on Mars, not with this particular mission? But the next Rover the Mars twenty twenty Rover doesn't have a it's it's fancy name yet. But. Mars twenty twenty for now. It looks a lot like the curiosity Rover that landed in twenty twelve but it will have different instruments that is the mission that's going to start to search for signs of prior life on Marsh don't know full find it. But that's the mission that will really have the science instruments dedicated to answering that question we're going to be there in two years two years. Yeah, I'm going to be there in two years. Why the calendar? Yeah. And even even even more fancy landing system, but we use the same landing system when we landed curiosity in twenty twelve so it's nice to use technology that you know, you worked once before. But like I said, there's no guarantee the next time around it's going to work, but there's at least a a better chance that you know, that's gonna work and the astronauts that are on this mission. Do they have enough food and water and oxygen? Astronauts up on the international space station who will probably watching NASA TV's landed. They are just fine. No, people know people on this one just a just a plucky little Lander that that got it self demars. And so hopefully over the next few months in a couple of years, we'll get some great science data from this. Well, that's all sounds terrific Michelle, and by the way. Did I see and some reporting this the Adler planetarium has any sort of connection or was it just that you were like other places monitoring. It has Adler done any work on this mission per se. No, not per se. We we definitely monitor everything that Nassar's up too. So we had a a watch party there going on. So folks were there watching and cheering them on. I saw some video of that they posted to our interior communication system of of that. So folks were there and they were excited and staff were excited, and it's a fun time. We like it when stuff goes, well, it's not as fun when it goes badly. Anything else you'd like us to know about what's going on over to either before. I let you go. Oh, we've got our space odyssey after dark coming up in December. So if you want to have some fun for the twenty one and over there's tickets are available right now. So go to other planetarium dot ORG..

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