From Spaceflight Insider: “I have the power! Mars 2020 rover completes critical milestone”


From Spaceflight Insider

July 29th, 2019
Laurel Kornfeld

Does this power system make my butt look big? While this likely isn’t what the Mars 2020 rover was thinking when this photo was taken, the robot is getting closer to taking flight. Photo Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

NASA Mars 2020 rover schematic

NASA Mars Rover 2020

With just one year to go before the Mars 2020 rover’s scheduled launch, work is commencing on the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) that will serve as the rover’s power source.

Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Director of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, approved this next stage of the rover’s construction on July 24. As the first robotic spacecraft equipped with technology capable of selecting its own landing site, Mars 2020 is viewed by NASA as paving the way for crewed space missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

Construction of the rover, which viewers can now watch live online thanks to a camera installed in the clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, is proceeding on target. All of its interior parts have now been built except for the highly complex Adaptive Caching Assembly, which has a total of 3,000 parts, including seven motors.

“The progression of the Mars 2020 rover project is on schedule. The decision to begin fueling the MMRTG is another important milestone in keeping to our timetable for a July 2020 launch,” Zerbuchen emphasized.

After launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on July 17, 2020, when Earth and Mars are in ideal positions relative to one another for the trip, the rover is scheduled to land in Jezero Crater on the Red Planet on February 18, 2021, using a sky crane descent landing system. Favorable alignments of Earth and Mars every two years reduce the amount of power and therefore cost needed for the journey.

Mars 2020‘s design and landing system are based on those used on the Curiosity rover, which touched down inside Mars’ Gale Crater in August 2012 and is still functioning nearly seven years later.

NASA/Mars Curiosity Rover

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