Trajectory Correction Maneuver(TCM)-1
NASA Mars Perseverance Rover is almost a month now in space. Since launch on July 30, 2020 it only encountered technical problem when it went into “safe mode“. The launch was all good, even despite some unforeseen circumstance that could delay it’s mission. Just before the launch an earthquake struck and COVID-19 came and had some impact with the preparation.
About, 15 days after launch, NASA Mars Perseverance Rover executed is schedule cruise correction. A fine-tuning of its flight to Mars. This is is to ensure that the rover will land on Jezero crater. Months of planning should be well earned if we land Percy on that spot. This maneuvers is just one of the Five(TCM1 ~5) with a contingency(TCM5x) and backup(TCM6) maneuvers which could occur 1.6 days and 9 hours (accordingly) before landing.
Why need to fine-tune flight?
This is a very valid question. The spacecraft is currently travelling at approximately 40 kilometers per hour. Very fast the path relies heavily on the trajectory it achieved during launch with help of Earths gravity. At the same time relying on Mars as it gains proximity.
In space, it’s not just Earth and Mars that are doing the back and forth tug. We have other planets and other celestial bodies that could affect a man-made space probes path. So, from time-to-time, a course correction should be made. After all, simulations done in the ground has some margin of difference in the actual flight.
What other preparations Percy is doing on the way to Mars?
I’m not an expert. But, there could be a number of standard procedures done on flight. Trajectory Correction Maneuver(TCM) is one of them. They could be broken down multiple sub-procedures. Below are just the high-level operations in flight.
HEALTH AND SYSTEMS CHECK
ON-BOARD SYSTEMS CALIBRATION
Tracking a spacecraft in space is not an easy feat. Although, technology plays a significant role in the automation, humans still a constant communication with the probe to make sure plan is executed.
We do make plans, in every journey or in life in this matter. It’s a blueprint to reach the destination or perhaps success. In reality though we are still bound with the actual. It’s like a tug between the ideals and the practical. We still work at that level of margin.
The margin could be of error. Or, success. Which of those two, is entirely up to us. Thank you for reading this article. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Or, subscribe to my blog for more Mars Exploration and Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover updates.
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