Land Rover Defender book: The legend lives again

FFor the CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, Ralf Speth, who is leaving office these days, the new Defender book is a kind of farewell present. Right at the beginning of the 2.4 kilogram and 256-page voluminous volume, Speth is allowed to plow through the famous “jungle” near Solihull in the new Land Rover and present the car in fine thread and with rubber boots. The jungle was created in 1948 when the first Land Rover was developed. The brand is 72 years old today.

Matthias Pfannmüller and FAZ editor Boris Schmidt have been with them for a long time. In 1997, they published the first Land Rover book in German, which has been updated several times. While it was always about the brand as a whole, the new work, of which there is also an English edition, deals exclusively with the original Land Rover, which has been called Defender since the early 1990s. Land Rover has long since ceased to be a one-car brand; today, in addition to the Defender, there are the Discovery Sport and Discovery models as well as the Range Rover family with Evoque, Sport, Velar and Range Rover.

The outcry from the many fans around the world was great when the Defender was discontinued in January 2016. Now it is back, technically completely new, without rigid axles, but at first glance a Defender. For this book, Pfannmüller and Schmidt brought Land Rover veteran Roger Crathorne into the team of authors. Nobody knows the brand better than he does, since he has spent his entire professional life in Solihull and has built up an extensive, private archive. In addition to a representation of the history, the entire route to the new Defender is traced, from the first drawing to the prototype construction to the fresh factory in Nitra, Slovakia.

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Was there life on Mars?

Dnasa’s Mariner 9 probe made a revolutionary discovery in 1972. Surface images of Mars showed a network of dry, branched valleys. Some spanned more than a thousand kilometers. The American geologist Daniel Milton drew a remarkable conclusion from these observations the following year: “Many features on Mars are easiest to understand by the fact that there has been running surface water at some point in the past; running water is the only explanation for some of these characteristics. ”So were there huge, landscape-defining floods on our small, cold and dusty neighboring planet, whose atmospheric gases have largely escaped into space today? What might initially be difficult to imagine seems certain today: Mars once had a completely different climate than it does today. It was at least temporarily warm and humid – at least a time three and a half billion years ago when life arose on Earth.

With this knowledge, one of the central, but certainly the largest open question of Mars research was formed: Was or is there life on our neighboring planet too? It had an impact on all Mars missions in recent years and decades. The current Mars mission of the American space agency Nasa, which will start at the earliest this Thursday, should now provide decisive impulses for its answer: the Perseverance rover will look for evidence of past life – among other things by collecting rock and soil samples that will eventually be used for a comprehensive scientific analysis is to be brought back to Earth. This could finally provide the answers that missions on Mars themselves have so far been guilty of.

Today the conditions on the surface of Mars are not very life-friendly: The Hubble Space Telescope of our neighboring planet from August 26, 2003

The investigation will also have some relevance for the more general question of life in space. After all, as an earth-like rock planet near the outer edge of the “habitable zone” that allows liquid water, Mars is a planet that would be categorized as a promising candidate for a life-friendly environment if we were to observe it from a distance with our telescopes. His example can be used to study how physical and chemical development processes influence the habililty, the friendliness to life of a planet over time. The fact that large parts of its surface from the early phase of its history are preserved and accessible due to the lack of plate tectonics makes it particularly suitable for this. Numerous missions to Mars have given us a detailed, albeit sketchy, picture of the past of the Red Planet based on studies of its surface, atmosphere and physical fields.

Like the other planets, Mars was formed around four and a half billion years ago from dust that clumped into kilometer-sized chunks, so-called planetetesimals. These in turn grew into planetary embryos. After a few million years, Mars could have been largely formed in this way in order to form the core, mantle and crust relatively quickly. Magnetized rock in areas of the southern highlands indicates that Mars initially had a magnetic field generated by an internal dynamo, which disappeared around four billion years ago. At that time there was also widespread volcanism: gigantic volcanoes such as Olympus Mons, around 25 kilometers high, testify to this, and it seems that it last erupted less than a hundred million years ago.

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China launches missile for its first landing on Mars

China launched a rocket with a spaceship on board to Mars. The launch vehicle of the new, high-performance type “Long March 5” took off on Thursday from the space station in Wenchang on the south Chinese island of Hainan. The five-ton spaceship consists of an orbiter, a landing device and a vehicle the size of a golf cart.

Unlike other space nations, China plans to try landing on the Red Planet on its first independent Mars mission. The spaceship is scheduled to reach Mars in February, but will not land until two or three months later. The name “Tianwen-1” can be translated as “Questions to Heaven” and is borrowed from an ancient Chinese poem.

If the mission succeeds, China would be the second nation to land on Mars and operate a rover after the United States. Russia had landed in 1971, but communication broke down immediately after touchdown. A landing on Mars is considered to be particularly risky. So far, only half of all attempts have been successful. China’s mission is one of three flights to Mars this summer.

Mars is closest to Earth between July and August – a constellation like this only occurs every two years. In the early Monday morning, the United Arab Emirates launched the first Arabian Mars probe into space using a Japanese rocket. But it should not land. In a week, the United States plans to launch a spaceship to land on Mars with the Perseverance rover.

The Chinese launch was eagerly awaited because the new “Long March 5” rocket was deployed, and there had been some failures in its development.

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China starts its mission “Tianwen-1” to Mars

AThe publication by the scientists of the Chinese Academy of Space Technology and the Institute of Spacecraft System Engineering, which was published in “Science China” in May 2017 on the occasion of the first Chinese mission to Mars, speaks respect for the task ahead. It required decisive new technological developments, the hitherto technically untrained handling of a new and in many aspects unknown environment as well as extensive experimental preparations. In fact, the Chinese project is anything but modest. Right on the first mission to the red planet, called “Tianwen-1”, the Chinese want to achieve a triple goal: first, put a probe into planetary orbit, second, make a landing, and third, send a rover to explore the surface.

At the beginning of last year, however, China already showed that it, as a space nation, has grown to face complex challenges. For the first time, as part of the “Chang’e 4” mission, it realized a soft landing on the back of the moon, where the rover “Yutu-2” has been exploring the surface since then. For the landing, it was necessary to bring a satellite close to the Earth-Moon Lagrangian point L2, where it remains around 60,000 kilometers beyond the moon in a constant relative position to the moon and earth and can be used as a relay for communication .

Many elements of the know-how acquired in the previous lunar missions will now also be helpful when traveling to Mars, although the task differs significantly in various respects: Mars is around a thousand times as far away. Correspondingly, messages are on the way for about 20 minutes instead of just under one and a half seconds, so that missions there have to operate much more independently of ground control. The dusty and rough surface of Mars brings with it special imponderables, in addition, the solar radiation received on Mars is weaker.

However, landing on our neighboring planet is particularly difficult, especially when compared to the moon. In the thin atmosphere, a strong braking must be achieved so that a landing module does not break. The Chinese are expecting the 240 kilogram lander’s entry speed to be almost five kilometers per second (18,000 kilometers per hour) at a height of 125 kilometers, which must be dismantled within seven minutes. Due to the interaction with the atmosphere, the lander heats up and must be protected from the heat. At the same time, the atmosphere is too thin to allow the use of a parachute. Brake rockets must therefore be used as a support.

The international mission statistics show how challenging this is: out of 18 landing attempts, only ten have so far been successful: nine American and one Russian. In order to give the mission enough space and a little more time for landing, the Chinese have chosen two possible landing sites in the Utopia Planitia lowlands, which are not far from the landing sites of NASA’s two Viking probes. The landing should take place two to three months after the arrival of the mission in February 2021, the orbiter will then serve as a relay for communication with the rover, but will also carry out its own scientific observations. For this he carries seven instruments on board – cameras, ground radar, spectrometer, magnetometer and instruments for the analysis of cosmic particle radiation. Six other instruments are on board the rover.

The scientific objectives of the mission are accordingly extensive. The morphology and geological structure of Mars are to be mapped, the surface is to be examined with regard to soil, rock and ice distribution and its chemical composition, the ionosphere and the climate are being researched, and the electromagnetic and gravitational field of Mars is to be measured that also conclusions about the interior of the planet are possible. The mission should start at the earliest on Thursday morning from the Wechang cosmodrome on Hainan Island with a Long March 5 rocket.

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China launches missile for its first landing on Mars

China launched a rocket with a spaceship on board to Mars. The launch vehicle of the new, high-performance type “Long March 5” took off on Thursday from the space station in Wenchang on the south Chinese island of Hainan. The five-ton spaceship consists of an orbiter, a landing device and a vehicle the size of a golf cart.

Unlike other space nations, China is trying to land on the Red Planet during its first independent Mars mission. The spaceship is scheduled to reach Mars in February, but will not land until two or three months later. The name “Tianwen-1” can be translated as “Questions to Heaven” and is borrowed from an ancient Chinese poem.

If the mission succeeds, China would be the second nation to land on Mars and operate a rover after the United States. Russia had landed in 1971, but communication broke down immediately after touchdown. A landing on Mars is considered to be particularly risky. So far, only half of all attempts have been successful. China’s mission is one of three flights to Mars this summer.

Mars is closest to Earth between July and August – a constellation like this only occurs every two years. In the early Monday morning, the United Arab Emirates launched the first Arabian Mars probe into space using a Japanese rocket. But it should not land. In a week, the United States plans to launch a spaceship to land on Mars with the Perseverance rover.

The Chinese launch was eagerly awaited because the new “Long March 5” rocket was deployed, and there had been some failures in its development.

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Three new probes coming to Mars shortly.

Scheich Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), wished for a Mars probe in 2014. As the project manager Omran Sharaf later recalled in a lecture, His Highness made two specifications: “You have to reach Mars before December 2, 2021 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE with a great achievement”, and : “You shouldn’t buy a Mars probe, you should build one.”

Ulf von Rauchhaupt

Responsible for the “Science” section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

The latter remained a matter of interpretation. Cooperation partners from three American universities with all kinds of experience in instrumenting space probes helped with the design and manufacture of the “Al Amal” probe (Arabic for “hope”). And Al Amal will launch next Wednesday on a Mitsubishi rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. Nevertheless, the project is a matter of high national prestige for the Emiratis. The scientific director of the mission, Sarah bint Jussef Al Amiri, became a minister in 2017 and emphasizes at every opportunity how important the Mars probe is for her country, which is to change from oil spillage to technology nation. Above all, the youth should be inspired by this. The minister, a computer scientist, is only 33 years old herself.

However, the risk is considerable, even if the Emiratis can already build on experience with orbiting satellites. Because Mars is a real probe tomb. Of the 55 devices that have been started with this goal since 1960, thirty have failed. So far the most successful have been the Americans, who have suffered numerous failures, but have landed eight times safely on Mars, including four times with mobile rovers; NASA plans to send its fifth rover, called “Perseverance”, on July 30th. In contrast, the other of the two old space powers has been almost unlucky so far: Of the 21 Russian and Soviet space probes alone, only three gave results. Europe still has the best success rate with two impeccably working orbits, one with Russian participation, and two failed attempts with small experimental countries, apart from India, which was the first “young” space nation to launch a probe into Mars orbit in 2014, which was immediately successful . Japan and China have so far only tried once, both to no avail, with the Chinese probe Yinghuo-1 falling victim to a malfunction in 2011 of the Russian spacecraft to which it was given.

China’s big leap forward

So the Chinese now want to try it all on their own. Also in the coming weeks – probably around July 23 – a Chang Zheng 5 (“Long March 5”) rocket is expected to take the Tianwen-1 probe to Mars. This project is extremely ambitious: it includes an orbiter and a lander from which a rover is supposed to roll off. With this, China wants to unite almost all techniques in which the Americans have gained decades of experience in one mission. The successes that the country has recently celebrated on the moon, especially through the first soft landing on the back of the moon in January 2019, do not make it seem entirely unrealistic that the Chinese will make the “big leap forward” on Mars. However, landings there are more difficult than on any other celestial body in the solar system, because the atmosphere is dense enough to be taken into account when approaching, but too thin to be done with parachutes alone. Moreover, Mars is too far away to be able to control a landing sequence from Earth. Instead, the device has to do it completely autonomously. Another possible risk factor is the launch vehicle. A Chang Zheng 5 has only flown three times in the configuration provided for Tianwen-1 and has only been successful twice. The Chinese space agency CNSA is – unlike Nasa or the United Arab Emirates Space Agency – extremely cautious when it comes to press work for its Mars probe. The CNSA website does not even mention the project. Apparently, the whole thing is viewed more as an internal experiment.

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