For the first time ever, NASA has captured video of a rover landing on the surface of Mars, plus audio of the wind whistling past it after the landing.
The stars of the show are NASA's Perseverance rover and the hundreds of scientists and engineers supporting the mission to Mars at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other institutions around the world. But Amazon Web Services is playing a key role in making all those gigabytes of goodness available to the world.
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SpaceX will launch its twenty-first resupply mission to the International Space Station Saturday and set a couple of new records - if weather allows.
First, this mission will mark the first time NASA has allowed a booster to be reused more than three times. It will also mark the first time SpaceX has two Dragon vehicles on the Space Station. The Dragon from an earlier mission, which brought four U.S. astronauts to the station last month, is still docked there, and will be for another five months.
This mission, dubbed CRS-21, will bring food, equipment, supplies and a new set of experiments to the station. It's set to launch from Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 8:39 a.m. PST.
The weather forecast calls for a cold front that has a 50% chance of scuttling the launch, but — should it take place — you watch it below:
When Perseverance arrives on Mars early next year, it will be the first landfall for a rover carrying 3D-printed metal parts and a small victory for proponents of the technique in the high-cost, high-risk world of the U.S. aerospace program.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, nestled in the foothills of La Cañada Flintridge, has seen a slow cultural shift over the last decade toward the adoption of 3D printing techniques, more formally known as "additive manufacturing," in spacecraft design. The technology uses lasers to melt metal powder that is layered to precise computer modeling, until that metal takes the shape of whatever engineers need.
For years, 3D printing has been relegated to the realm of nerdy hobbyists, but its adoption by startups and big business has helped push NASA leaders toward accepting more innovation despite the risks. These days, 3D printing has been used on airplane engines, houses, hearing aids, chocolates, Tesla car components and even a pair of Adidas shoes.
"I have seen a 3D printed burrito, and it didn't look as delicious as Chipotle," said Scott Roberts, a JPL materials technologist, with a laugh.
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