This morning I arose to view the launch of the Mars rover Perseverance.  It’s on its way to Jezero Crater.

An Atlas V took the rover up.

As I write, we are waiting for the Centaur rocket to burn.

The rover is still “coasting” around your planet.   Right now there is a guy explaining the solid oxide electrolysis system – the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment – (MOXIE) which will be tested on Mars. MOXIE will suck in the thin Martian atmosphere, mostly CO2 and convert it to O2.   This is important for future missions: can we make what we need there rather than haul it along?

This rover has a laser to shoot at rocks and a little Martian chopper/drone – Ingenuity – that will fly around.   The rover will collect samples which eventually can be returned to Earth.

Perseverance should arrive at Mars in 7 months.


The 2nd burn was successful.  There was good separation of Mars 2020 from the Centaur.  The deep space net picked up a signal from the vehicle.  Things are good.

Meanwhile, as the rover crawls its way through space to Mars, who can say what this critter is?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JustaSinner says:

    Manduca quinquemaculata…

  2. Fr. John says:

    Looks like a tomato worm.

  3. Sandy says:

    Agree with Fr. John. I’m battling them on my tomato plants at this time. They are gross looking!

  4. JustaSinner says:

    Sandy, be careful, they have a sting/bite which some people are highly allergic to. Bordeaux, copper sulfate works great on ridding the tomatoes of these evil critters.

  5. Kerry says:

    …no, not a tomato hornworm. Note the absence of black spots, diagonal stripes, and the missing ‘horn’. It is the larvae of Antheraea polyphemus, the Polyphemus moth. In my experience, the polyphemus is the most common of the north American silk moths, the cecropia moth largest and the most stunning, and the Luna, the most beautiful. (Though the Io moth competes in the same class for beauty. While on the subject of beautiful lepidoptera, one might look up the buckeye butterfly, my vote for most beautiful N. American butterfly. I’ll stop now.) Silk moths not because silk is made of the cocoons, but the cocoons are made of silk. (As are most species of moth, small and large.) The adult silk moths do not feed, live about two weeks.
    Big picture:
    Sandy, yes, creepy looking. They also feed on tobacco plants and, one presumes, ‘tomacco plants’. Harmless though. Do you fish?

  6. Kerry says:

    P.S. Father Z, if it is not 3 inches long, but only 3/4th’s inch long, well….there are a lot of green butterfly caterpillars

  7. PostCatholic says:

    Moxie is a carbonated beverage I remember from my childhood. Not fondly, though. I don’t know precisely what gentian tires are but I know they deeply resent being dig up and turned into a beverage.

    [If memory serves, gentian is the basis of the French aperitif Suze, which is excellent chilled and with a lemon twist.]

  8. Kerry says:

    Justa, I do not believe caterpillars have either stings or bites. Have you documentation or confirmation? (My moments ago search says negatory.)
    Sandy, I recommend BT for your caterpillars. “BT, which is short for Bacillus thuringiensis var. Kurstaki, is a naturally-occurring bacteria that will poison all manner of caterpillars, including tomato hornworm, cabbage worms…”. I am a serious gardener, (185 potato plants), et. al., and BT keeps my cabbages free of European cabbage butterfly larvae. No pizzen needed.

  9. donna555 says:

    I think it is a Luna moth larva

  10. JonPatrick says:

    Moxie is the unofficial state drink of Maine (although some say it is Allen’s Coffee Brandy, although that is more common for those engaged in the unofficial state winter activity of Ice Fishing). Having been a Maine resident for 7 years I have yet to try it (sssh don’t tell anyone or they may deport me).

  11. grateful says:

    ” (185 potato plants), et. al.,” That is totally wonderful.
    Thanks for all the info. I planted a few parsely seeds long ago. If I recall correctly, they drew lots of butterflies.

  12. Sandy says:

    Well, Father Z, you started it :), but the agricultural discussion and advice are fascinating!

  13. JakeMC says:

    It also looks a great deal like the cabbage worms I’m currently battling. None on my tomatoes, though…

  14. Semper Gumby says:

    Kerry: Your gardening knowledge surpasses mine, but maybe this is a snackus fritolayus- commonly known as a Cheetoh.

    The Cheetoh harvest every fall in the Kraków-Cz?stochowa Uplands of Poland begins with a Marian procession followed by a festival and feast. And beer. And dust. Lots and lots of yellowish-orange dust.

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