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Landing of Mars Rover Perseverance

"Mars is there, waiting to be reached."

~ Buzz Aldrin

Over the years, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has sent five robotic vehicles, called rovers, to Mars: Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity, and Perseverance. Today, February 18th, after a journey of 100 days and 286 million miles, "Percy" (the nickname for Perseverance) is due to land near an ancient lake bed called Jezero Crater at 3:55 pm ET. Because it takes 11 minutes for signals from Perseverance to travel to Earth, nobody will know what's happened until about 4:06 pm. First, the capsule carrying Perseverance has to enter through the Martian atmosphere at 12,000 mph, which superheats the material around it to up to 2,370 degrees Fahrenheit. Then it must deploy a 70-foot-wide parachute, slowing its fall to about 150 mph, and drop its heat shield. This will expose the rover's underside, giving it an open view of the ground below and allowing an onboard navigation system to identify the best landing spot. About a mile above the Martian surface, the capsule must drop the rover, which is equipped with a jetpack on its back. The jetpack's engines should fire up and fly Perseverance to its landing spot. Once there, the jetpack must slowly lower the rover on 25-foot-long nylon cords until its wheels touch the ground. If Perseverance lands successfully, it will spend its first few weeks on Mars checking all its systems and pinpointing any issues so that engineers on Earth can troubleshoot. Then the rover will open its belly panels to release a small drone called Ingenuity. The little helicopter is set to attempt the first-ever rotocraft flights on another planet. Then the rover will set out on its hunt for alien fossils in the cliffs and sandy plateaus of Jezero Crater. 🪐 🚀

Mars has its own special day, November 28th, to  commemorate the day in 1964 when Mariner 4, a robotic interplanetary probe was launched by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).


In the 8 months it was on its mission, the Mariner 4 became the first spacecraft to successfully fly by Mars. It also gave the world the first close-up images of Mars. Since then several exploratory missions have been sent to Mars to gather data about the planet.


Today, 5 spacecrafts orbit Mars and 2 spacecrafts - the Curiosity Rover and the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity - are on the planet's surface. 


Perseverance, is due to land today, February 18, 2021.

 

Designed on behalf of Charles Cockell, Professor of Astrobiology, Edinburgh University, this tartan is intended to be worn during Mars science, exploration and outreach activities. Colours: the red background depicts the surface of Mars, the Red Planet; blue depicts the water-rich past of Mars and the presence of water, mainly as ice, on the planet today; the four green lines represent Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, the presence of habitable conditions on the planet and the possible future presence of life in the form of human settlement; the thick white line represents the Martian poles, visible from the Earth, a conspicuous and important feature of the planet and its long-term climatic cycles.


For the latest discoveries, click the surface of the red planet!