by Brandon Butler
Back to the red planet 2/6/2021

Joey Roulette at The Verge has a good overview of the upcoming Mars missions from NASA, the UAE, and China:

The rare convoy of Mars-bound spacecraft launched off Earth in a slim, roughly two-month window last summer when Earth and Mars lined up just right in their orbits around the Sun. This planetary alignment only happens once every two years, and three countries took advantage of it in 2020, just as outer space reemerged as a playground for scientific discovery and displays of national power.

There’s a drone on NASA’s Perseverance rover that will attempt the first flight on another planet:

The most ambitious piece of hardware aboard Perseverance is a box-shaped helicopter called Ingenuity, whose test flight “could result in the Martian equivalent of a Wright Brothers moment,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for the science mission directorate. Deploying from the rover’s belly, Ingenuity will attempt to fly in Mars’ ultra-thin atmosphere. If it is successful, it may mark the first demonstration of vertical rotorcraft on another world.

This is going to be a fun month for Mars.