NASA’s Mars 2020 rover coming collectively at JPL – Astronomy Now
Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory combine the Mars 2020 rover’s motor controller meeting. The rover, an in depth twin of the Curiosity rover now exploring Gale Crater on the crimson planet, is scheduled for launch in the summertime of 2020. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech NASA’s 2020 Mars rover and the spacecraft that may carry it to
Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory combine the Mars 2020 rover’s motor controller meeting. The rover, an in depth twin of the Curiosity rover now exploring Gale Crater on the crimson planet, is scheduled for launch in the summertime of 2020. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA’s 2020 Mars rover and the spacecraft that may carry it to the crimson planet a little bit greater than a yr from now are taking form at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
The nuclear-powered 2020 rover is an in depth relative of the Curiosity rover that landed on Mars in 2012 and is now working its method up the decrease slopes of Mount Sharp within the coronary heart of Gale Crater. However the brand new mannequin options quite a lot of upgrades and enhancements, together with a collection of highly effective devices to search for indicators of previous martian life and to cache rock and soil samples for eventual return to Earth.
Within the picture above, taken 29 April, engineers within the Spacecraft Meeting Facility’s Excessive Bay 1 work to combine the brand new rover’s motor controller meeting within the physique of the spacecraft. The motor controller meeting routes instructions to the rover’s wheels, robotic arm joints, digicam mast, drill and methods used to gather soil samples for on-site evaluation. On this view, the rover’s physique is the wrong way up to supply entry to the stomach of the spacecraft.
Within the middle of this view, a mockup of the Mars 2020 rover may be seen nestled stomach up inside its aerodynamic backshell. The backshell, in flip, is connected to the spacecraft’s interplanetary cruise stage. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Together with integrating methods within the rover, JPL engineers are also assembling the spacecraft’s interplanetary cruise stage and the rocket-powered “sky crane” touchdown system that may decrease Mars 2020 to landing in Jezero Crater in February 2021. A important a part of that work is becoming parts collectively – stacking – a number of instances to ensure every part will match correctly contained in the nostril cone fairing of an Atlas 5 rocket.
“Stacking is a crucial milestone in mission growth, as a result of nearly as good as our pc fashions are, we nonetheless have to put it collectively to point out that the bolt holes line up and every part suits collectively,” stated David Gruel, meeting, check and launch operations (ATLO) supervisor for Mars 2020 at JPL.
“It’s a nice feeling for your complete mission once we see the stack sitting there ready to go for the subsequent a part of its journey, which can finally result in a launch pad on the Cape Canaveral in July of subsequent yr.”
An engineer checks connections between the Mars 2020 rover/backshell (left) and the spacecraft’s interplanetary cruise stage (proper) throughout match checks. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Step one within the stacking process was mounting the rocket-powered descent stage on prime of a rover mockup. After a number of match checks, the aerodynamic “backshell” was lowered into place. As soon as that was full, and fitter checks verified the matched the blueprints, a protecting nostril cone was positioned over the spacecraft’s folded parachute, adopted by attachment to the cruise stage that may energy Mars 2020 throughout its seven-month journey. The stack then was rotated again to its authentic place for attachment of the lander’s warmth defend.
The completion of stacking clears the way in which for acoustic vibration testing to ensure the spacecraft is as much as the sound and shaking of launch adopted by thermal vacuum chamber testing to show the craft to a simulated area setting.
“Nothing is static with this mission,” stated Gruel. “After the acoustic and thermal vac checks, the stacked spacecraft is returned to the meeting constructing for de-stack, then extra testing and extra work. Till the hold-down bolts on the Atlas rocket blow and our rover is headed to Mars in July of 2020, there’s nearly all the time one thing being assembled, examined or modified.”