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How NASA’s next-gen Perseverance Mars rover tops older sibling Curiosity – CNET

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This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

NASA has once again sent what amounts to the ultimate driverless car to Mars. Perseverance, the rover previously known as Mars 2020, left Earth Thursday to become the successor robot to NASA’s Curiosity, which has been roving the red planet since 2012.

This latest-generation planetary explorer comes from a long line of well-traveled bots with some big upgrades over its older sibling that should allow scientists to see, touch and — for the first time ever — hear Mars in new ways.

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Martian audio-visual club

An assortment of Mars rovers and orbiters have sent myriad views of the red planet home, but we’ve yet to actually open a microphone there to capture the sounds of our neighboring planet. Perseverance aims to finally change this by carrying a pair of mics that will pick up the audio of landing on the planet, as well as the ambient noise of another world and the whirring din of a rover at work. 

“Hearing how the mast swivels, the wheels turn, or hearing how other instruments sound can also be an important engineering diagnostic tool,” said Greg Delory, the CEO and co-founder of space hardware company Heliospace. He’s an adviser to Perseverance’s SuperCam microphone team. 

SuperCam is the rover’s new science instrument that blasts rock and other materials with a laser while its microphone records the subtle sounds made by different types of rock as they get zapped. The SuperCam mic will also be able to pick up the Martian wind and other sounds from the rover’s environment. 

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The other on-board mic is part of the entry, descent and landing system that includes full-color cameras to capture the whole thrilling ride down to the surface. 

All together, Perseverance is loaded with 23 cameras, most of them color devices. It will be capable of capturing HD video and stereo 3D panoramas and of zooming in on a target the size of a house fly from over 100 yards (91 meters) away. 

Save it for later

A key part of Perseverance’s mission is to collect rock and gas samples from the Martian surface that will then be secured for possible later retrieval by a future mission.

A significant portion of the rover’s belly is taken up by instruments for collecting and analyzing Martian geology.

“I can’t wait for the time that these unique samples will one day return to Earth and be available for study by scientists around the world,” planetary scientist Caroline Smith from the UK Natural History Museum said in a statement. Smith is working with NASA and the European Space Agency to plan how the samples will be curated upon their delivery to Earth.

The sample return mission is part of one of the larger goals for Perseverance — looking for evidence of past life on Mars. Jezero Crater, where the rover will land, is thought to have once been home to a large body of water the size of Lake Tahoe, making it a prime spot for life in the distant past. 

perseverance-v-curiosity

NASA

A flying sidekick

Perseverance will be fully grounded on Mars, but it’s carrying something new and exciting: the first helicopter to ply the thin atmosphere of our neighboring planet. 

Dubbed Ingenuity, the tiny chopper is stowed in the belly of the rover, to be expelled onto the surface for some flight tests. This should be very interesting since we’ve never flown on another planet and the atmosphere of Mars is very different from that of Earth. 

Put another way, don’t expect too much from this little space drone. But if it works, it could mean big ups (sorry) for how we explore other worlds in the future. 

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Prepping for Elon and other human visitors

One of the stated goals of the Perseverance mission is to make key advances that will support the future arrival of actual people to become the first (or at least the most recent) Martians. 

The rover is equipped with experiments like Moxie, the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, which will test a way to pull oxygen out of literal Martian thin air. It will also use instruments to look at how the ubiquitous dust in that air could impact human life support systems and other key technologies. 

Still other experiments will look for subsurface water, study the Martian atmosphere, climate and weather, and assess their impact on potential human explorers. 

Fancy new wheels and a stronger arm

Engineers took some lessons learned from Curiosity and the punishment delivered to it by sharp, pointy Martian rocks and applied them to beefing up the wheels on Perseverance. They’re narrower, but have a bigger diameter and are made out of thicker aluminum. This, and all its new tools, make Perseverance heavier than its older sibling.

Wielding all those tools also requires a larger “hand” or turret on the end of its robotic arm. The arm extends 7 feet (2 meters), ending in the rotating 99-pound (45-kilogram) turret holding a scientific camera, chemical analyzers and rock drill. It’s pretty much the ultimate power glove.

NASA Perseverance rover ready to explore the wilds of Mars


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Curiosity had a similar setup, but the turret on Perseverance weighs 33 percent more because it has bigger instruments and a drill meant to cut into intact rock cores to collect samples for storage.

All in all, Perseverance is the most advanced robot to visit Mars yet, and if all goes well, it might be one of the last to make the trip alone without human companions. 

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Next-Gen Ubisoft's

Ubisoft’s Next-Gen 2020 Launches Will Be $60, But Doesn’t Rule Out Future Price Increase – IGN

During Ubisoft’s Q1 2020-21 earnings call, it confirmed that its Fall 2020 games, including Watch Dogs Legion and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, will be $60 USD when they launch on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. However, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot specifically mentions the games scheduled for release this holiday, potentially leaving the door open for a price increase.Ubisoft Yves Guillemot was responding to a question and said “For the Christmas games, we plan to come with the same price as the previous generation of consoles. That’s what we’re focused on at the moment.”

Later in the call, he reiterated the $60 price, but did not commit to saying all future next-gen games would be $60.

“We said earlier that for the $60 price, we are concentrating on the Christmas releases, and those games will launch at $60.”This move by Ubisoft differs from 2K’s decision to make NBA 2K21 $70 USD on PS5 and Xbox Series X, as opposed to the $60 price tag on current-gen systems.

This news also arrives alongside Ubisoft’s commitment to implement “major changes” to the company following the series of abuse and misconduct allegations against some of its employees.

During the earnings call, Ubisoft reported that it had a record first quarter with “significantly higher-than expected performance led by the depth of the Group’s catalog, quality of its Live services and historically high engagement levels.”

Ubisoft had record net bookings of “€410.0 million (~$474 million USD), far exceeding the Group’s target of around €335.0 million (~$388 million USD)”
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be released on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on November 17, 2020. We know it will be a launch title for PS5 and Xbox Series X, but we have yet to learn the launch date of either next-gen system.

Watch Dogs Legion will be released on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Stadia, and PC on October 29, 2020.

Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to newstips@ign.com.

Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.

Additional reporting by Matt T.M. Kim

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