As Martian spacecraft experience solar conjunction, Perseverance confirms Jezero Crater’s watery past

On October 2, 2021, all actively operating spacecraft at Mars ceased major communication with Earth as the planet entered its solar conjunction — an event wherein Mars crosses behind the Sun, limiting communication with Earth. As this began, NASA’s Perseverance rover’s science team released a new paper detailing the water-filled past of Jezero Crater — the location Perseverance is currently investigating. Mars solar conjunction From Earth, Mars passes behind the Sun in an event called Mars solar conjunction. During this, Mars and Earth are opposite each other with the Sun between them. Communication with spacecraft can be difficult with the Sun in the way, so spacecraft at Mars are commanded to cease any major communication with Earth for a brief two-week period — the length of solar conjunction. Additionally, ionized gas released by the Sun can interfere with radio signals, corrupting commands. These corrupted commands can cause a spacecraft to exhibit unexpected — and sometimes dangerous — behavior. Illustration showing Mars solar conjunction. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech) During solar conjunction occurs, some spacecraft will send small, brief signals back to Earth to let scientists know that they’re still in good health. However, just because major communication with Earth is halted does not…

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As Martian spacecraft experience solar conjunction, Perseverance confirms Jezero Crater’s watery past

Updated: October 9, 2021 — 10:26 pm