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Perseverance touches down on the red planet

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Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover, launched in July 2020, landed on Mars on 18 February. The Perseverance’s mission involves exploration of the red planet’s Jezero crater. It is carrying several scientific instruments on board, including Finnish-made humidity and pressure instrumentation, in addition to cameras, microphones and a miniature helicopter.

Confirmation that the Perseverance had landed safely was received at 20:55 GMT, prompting respectful fist bumps between engineers at NASA’s mission control in California, who were separated by perspex screens.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) has provided Perseverance with measurement instrumentation. Equipped with Vaisala’s sensors, FMI’s instrumentation will be used to provide pressure and humidity measurements in the extreme conditions of Mars.

On a quest to find answers
While the landing itself is a thrilling moment, the true test of success will be the mission itsef, as the six-wheeled rover navigates the Red Planet’s extreme conditions. Perseverance will spend at least one Mars year, equal to around two Earth years, exploring the landing-site area.

The rover is expected to land on the ancient river delta in Jezero Crater, which is believed to be the optimal place to find traces of ancient life. To collect data and samples from the Red Planet, NASA is working together with a group of trusted scientific partners.

The FMI’s instrumentation is part of the Spanish-led consortium’s Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA). The MEDA instrumentation kit is basically a Martian weather station that takes a wide range of atmospheric measurements: temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity, and the amount and size of dust particles. Vaisala’s pressure and humidity sensors onboard Perseverance are similar, but more advanced, to those sent to Mars on the Curiosity rover in 2012.

“The rover’s equipment needs to operate in the harsh Martian environment, with very low pressure conditions and cold temperatures, and it must be able to resist possible global dust storms. In addition to the environmental aspects and potential dangers of the landing itself, the distance between Mars and Earth makes the mission challenging. There is no one to fix the instrumentation if something goes wrong,” says Maria Genzer, Head of Planetary Research and Space Technology Group at FMI.

Meteorological observation network on another planet
When landing, the Perseverance and Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity will operate around 2000 km from each other. Together they will help create a small-scale atmospheric observation network on Mars. This is the first step towards the wider observation network being planned for Mars in the future.

“Mars and Earth are like rocky sisters. They both have seasonal variation, ice caps, similar declination of axis, length of day, and rocky consistency. Mars offers us a basic model of Earth – without vegetation, water, human life, cities, and other ‘noise’ we encounter on Earth,” says Genzer. “Interplanetary atmospheric research offers us tools to better understand our current habitat, and who knows what other findings there might be.”

5B_0514
BAROCAP® wafer: The silicon-based micromechanical pressure sensor combines single-crystal silicon material and capacitive measurement.

“We are excited to provide our world-leading sensor technology to a Mars mission once again. Our accurate and durable HUMICAP® and BAROCAP® sensors will enable high-quality humidity and pressure data even on the Red Planet and lay the foundations for the atmospheric observation network on Mars,” said Samuli Hänninen, Vice President of Vaisala’s Products and Technologies.

The Mars 2020 mission is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The Perseverance rover is designed to better understand the environmental conditions and geology of Mars and seek signs of ancient life. The mission will collect and store a set of rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth in the future.

Learn more about space-proof technology by visiting vaisala.com/space.

You can follow live updates from NASA here.

Source: https://envirotecmagazine.com/2021/02/19/perseverance-touches-down-on-the-red-planet/

Cleantech

Forecasting EV Sales And EV Battery & Metal Prices — Interview with BloombergNEF’s Head of Clean Power Research

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In the this episode of our CleanTech Talk podcast interview series, Zachary Shahan, Director and CEO of CleanTechnica, and Logan Goldie-Scot, Head of Clean Power Research at BloombergNEF, sit down to talk about the battery supply chain. You can listen to the full conversation in the embedded player below. Below that embedded SoundCloud player is a brief summary of the topics covered, but tune into the podcast to follow the full discussion.

You can subscribe and listen to CleanTech Talk on: Anchor, Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket, Podbean, Radio Public, SoundCloud, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Logan joined BloombergNEF back in 2009, and has been researching and writing about the battery supply chain and the increasing ambition relating to decarbonization around the world since. The changes Logan has seen in the past 18 months have been at a much quicker pace, he notes, which makes him excited to see the ways in which battery development influences the decarbonization of transportation and power moving forward.

Zach and Logan launch this episode by talking about Logan’s first few years of publishing about the battery supply chain, in which BloombergNEF looked at projections for batteries in terms of cost and were ridiculed by many for having ridiculously low estimates. What the team found, however, was that they were in fact far too conservative, says Logan. A lot has changed since their initial projections, and facts like 8 out of 12 top global economies having net zero targets surprised even Logan himself. 

The two move into talking about having enough minerals to meet the rising demand for batteries. As Zach notes, the industry is grappling with the question of whether the supply chain can continue to develop in line with the ever-growing and ever-changing demand. Logan notes that through the last couple of years, they observed low prices for minerals that discouraged investment and prompted operators on the supply side to delay expansion plans. But with metal prices set to rise this year, he believes new supply will come online relatively quickly.

Logan believes that there is a lot of change needed in the battery supply chain space, but also that many in the industry are well equipped to adjust to those changes. His main concerns include ensuring that the products brought to the market are both sustainable and ethical. Zach and Logan talk a bit more about the lifecycle emissions of vehicles and the ways in which safety and sustainability will be top of mind moving forward.

To hear more on these topics, listen to the show!

 



 


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/03/05/forecasting-ev-battery-metal-prices-interview-with-bloombergnefs-head-of-clean-power-research/

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Elon Musk: 10× More Tesla Cars To Get Full Self-Driving Beta Soon(ish)

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Tesla has been cautiously rolling out its “Full Self-Driving Beta” system over the past several months. Now, CEO Elon Musk says it will double the number of cars in the system with the coming 8.2 version update, and that it will increase the number of cars sporting the firmware by 10× when version 8.3 comes along — which may be in just 2 to 3 weeks.

Last we heard, on Tesla’s quarterly conference call for shareholders at the end of January, Elon said that nearly 1,000 Tesla owners had the FSD beta activated on their cars. If that hasn’t changed much since then, the simple math is that 10× more than 1,000 is 10,000.

One tricky thing about this stage of autonomous vehicle development is that, counterintuitively, it can come with more risk than earlier phases. When your car is “too good” at driving itself, it’s practically impossible to pay attention to the road for the rare instances where it needs you to take over. In fact, NASA discovered years ago that even top-tier engineers could not stay focused on a task if there wasn’t anything to do. With this in mind, Elon has repeatedly emphasized that Tesla owners who get the FSD Beta update need to be extra, extra careful.

The FSD Beta suite can take people from their homes to their favorite stores, workplaces, the park, tennis courts, or Disney World — potentially even without any interventions on the part of the driver. It is not yet perfect, but it is getting closer and closer every week. As you can see in Elon’s tweet above, they implemented about 1,000 improvements going from version 8.2 to version 8.3. I’m extremely interested in seeing what it can handle in our area.

We’ve written about FSD Beta at length here on CleanTechnica, so rather than do that again, here are some of the most notable recent pieces:

 



 


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/03/05/elon-musk-10x-more-tesla-cars-to-get-full-self-driving-beta-soonish/

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The Xpeng P7 Achieves 20,000 Sales Quicker Than Any Other Vehicle From A Chinese EV Startup

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Xpeng isn’t seeing blockbuster electric vehicle sales yet, but its first model just hit the market slightly more than two years ago and the company was formed approximately 7 years ago, so it would be hard to expect 100,000+ annual sales so quickly. That said, it has left the starting line quickly and already has a few records to its name.

One of those record firsts was just reached. The company’s P7 electric sedan reached 20,181 cumulative sales thanks to 1,409 deliveries in February. Being a little more than a year old, that’s the quickest that a car from a Chinese EV startup has reached 20,000 cumulative sales.

Xpeng had 2,223 vehicle deliveries in February and 6,015 in January, which came to a 577% increase over the first two months of 2020.

The big news this week from the company, though, is that the company is starting to put lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries in its cars for the Chinese market. (You may recall that Tesla also shifted to LFP batteries for the base version of its Model 3 in China.) Deliveries of the LFP-packed Xpeng G3 will start in April of this year, 2021, and deliveries of the LFP-packed Xpeng P7 will start in May.

The P7 and G3 were amazing offerings before, in my opinion, and this makes them even more competitive. Their driving range and tech seem like they’d result in much higher starting prices. As noted earlier this week, the G3 electric crossover now starts at just 180,000 yuan ($27,800) before subsidies (or 149,800 yuan/$23,150 after subsidies). That model has 400 km (249 miles) of range, according to the NEDC rating system. The Xpeng P7 costs 229,900 yuan ($35,500) after subsidies and an NEDC-rated range of 480 km (298 miles). That base model also comes with the XPILOT 2.5+ semi-autonomous driving suite (higher trims come with XPILOT 3.0). The higher trim P7, meanwhile, offers 706 km (439 miles) of range on a full charge.

“The new versions will effectively expand the P7’s driving range spectrum to 480-700+km NEDC from the current 580-700+km,” Xpeng notes.

This is the autonomy-related hardware in an Xpeng P7:

  • 14 cameras
  • 5 millimeter-wave radars
  • 12 ultrasonic sensors
  • NVIDIA Xavier system-on-the-chip computing platform
  • Bosch iBooster brake system

Here’s a table Xpeng provided of the new RWD Standard Range P7 versus the existing RWD Long Range P7:

Related: Why Did 70,000 People Buy NIO & Xpeng EVs Instead Of Teslas In China Last Year?

 



 


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/03/05/the-xpeng-p7-achieves-20000-sales-quicker-than-any-other-vehicle-from-chinese-ev-startup/

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Drive Electric USA — Electrifying 14 States

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Electric vehicle leaders in 14 states have just launched a three-year effort to develop “Drive Electric” programs at the state level for these 14 states. The states do not include clear leader likes California and Oregon, but rather focus on places that need a boost or are just getting off the ground.

The initiative stemmed from a conversation between East Tennessee Clean Fuels (ETCF) staff and Clean Fuels Ohio (CFO) staff in early 2020, and they were awarded US Department of Energy (DOE) funding before the year was over. After several months of preparation, the core Drive Electric USA team pulled together a few dozens additional partners to help create these state-level programs.

One of those partners is CleanTechnica, and I’m sitting on 4 of the “Project Advisory Committee” working groups. The working groups are focused on 7 different priority areas the Drive Electric USA team determined were critical elements of state-level Drive Electric programs. Here is how Drive Electric USA summarizes these priority areas:

1) Statewide Branded EV Programs

The Project will create strong statewide branded EV programs, each guided by a committee of EV stakeholders and encompassing locally based chapters. These programs will attract support and resources, coordinate action across all other Priority Areas, and increase positive exposure.

2) Consumer Education & Local Chapter Development

Directly educate at least 14,000 consumers (average of 1,000+ per state) through direct participation in EV Ride-and-Drives (R&Ds) and other tactics. Develop and support local EV chapters (at least two per state) to coordinate R&Ds based on specific event models. Gather and analyze participant surveys.

3) Utility and Regulator Engagement

Educate state utility regulators, plus investor-owned, municipal, and cooperative utilities in 14 states. Base education on evolving best practices for utility EV programs and benefits of transportation electrification for all stakeholders, including non-EV owning utility customers. Conduct seminars, forums, R&Ds and other convenings for utilities, regulators and stakeholders in the sector.

4) EV Charging Infrastructure Planning

Conduct gap analyses and develop or update plans for EV charging infrastructure in each of the 14 Partnership states at statewide, regional and community levels. Use analyses to educate a wide range of stakeholders and plan deployment of EVSE at all levels and site types in each state.

5) State and Local Government Officials Education

Educate government officials in all 14 Partnership states. At the state level, focus on best practices for incentive programs for vehicles and infrastructure, state building codes, weights and measures issues for public EVSE, among others. At the local level, focus on guidance for charging in public rights of way, signage and parking enforcement, local building codes, and government fleet electrification.

6) Dealer Engagement — Develop Preferred Dealer Programs

Develop “preferred” EV dealer programs in 14 states, then secure forty or more preferred dealers total, with at least two per state. Build web-based platforms to help channel interested EV purchasers to preferred dealers. Partner with “low touch” Internet- based retailers that sell EVs, especially in portions of states still underserved by supportive dealers.

7) Fleet Engagement & EV Adoption

Meet with personnel from 560 fleets across all Partnership states, then drive EV adoption in an average of at least 10 fleets per state.

State population data came from the U.S. Census. Registered EV data is in flux — current data is from Atlas EV HUB; we expect to update this in March 2021. DC Fast Charger and Level 2 station data is from the U.S. DOE Alternative Fuel Station Locator state results, and refers to the number of “stations” or locations where one or more DCFC/Level 2 units can be found (added in Feb. 2021).

The Project Advisory Committee members are a mixture of private sector, nonprofit, and governmental entities. It is diverse and should cover all the bases necessary to help create high-quality state Drive Electric programs. Here are the 34 current Project Advisory Committee members:

  1. Argonne National Laboratory | ANL
  2. Association for Energy Services Professionals
  3. Atlas Public Policy
  4. Black & Veatch
  5. CALSTART
  6. Center for Sustainable Energy
  7. ChargEVC
  8. ChargePoint
  9. CleanTechnica
  10. Clipper Creek
  11. Edison Electric Institute
  12. Electric Power Research Institute | EPRI
  13. EVNoire
  14. Fermata Energy
  15. FORTH
  16. Generation 180
  17. Greenlots
  18. Green Energy Consumers
  19. Lipschultz Energy and Communications Consulting LLC
  20. National Association of State Energy Officials | NASEO
  21. National Automobile Dealers Association
  22. National Conference of State Legislatures
  23. National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  24. North American Council for Freight Efficiency | NACFE
  25. Orange EV
  26. Plug In America
  27. RMI
  28. San Diego Clean Cities Coalition
  29. Shift2Electric
  30. Sierra Club
  31. Slipstream
  32. Southern Company
  33. Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance | SEEA
  34. Xcel Energy

We have a long way to go to electrify transport in the United States, but I am hopeful this initiative will speed up the transition. If you have any special feedback to provide on any of the topics above, feel free to pass it along, but I especially invite you to brainstorm and comment on the 4 focus areas of the working groups I’m on:

  • Statewide Branded EV Programs
  • Consumer Education & Local Chapter Development
  • EV Charging Infrastructure Planning
  • Dealer Engagement — Develop Preferred Dealer Programs

If you have something to share on any of these topics, pass it along. As the programs are develop, I expect to bring highlights of some of the conversations here to CleanTechnica, where I expect we can also gather some thoughtful feedback from engaged readers.

If you want to get involved in Drive Electric USA directly yourself, you can contact the administrative team here. You could also get involved through one of several Clean Cities Coalitions groups involved in the initiative.

Last but not least, the Drive Electric USA website includes a resources section that is sure to grow over time. For now, it includes the following plans or roadmaps as well as the Atlas EV Hub. Here are the exact documents that are listed at the moment:

  • Colorado EV Plan
  • Florida EV Roadmap
  • NC ZEV Plan
  • Tennessee EV Roadmap

 



 


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/03/05/drive-electric-usa-electrifying-14-states/

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