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  • richardmitnick 10:52 am on October 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA MARS 2020 rover, NASA must meet extraordinary cleanliness measures to avoid the possibility of contaminating Martian samples with terrestrial contaminants.   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “Mars 2020 Unwrapped and Ready for Testing” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    October 18, 2019

    DC Agle
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-9011
    agle@jpl.nasa.gov

    Alana Johnson
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-672-4780
    alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

    NASA Mars 2020 rover schematic

    NASA Mars 2020 Rover

    1
    Bunny-suited engineers remove the inner layer of protective foil on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover after it was moved to a different building at JPL for testing.

    “The Mars 2020 rover will be collecting samples for future return to Earth, so it must meet extraordinary cleanliness measures to avoid the possibility of contaminating Martian samples with terrestrial contaminants,” said Paul Boeder, contamination control lead for Mars 2020 at JPL. “To ensure we maintain cleanliness at all times, we need to keep things clean not only during assembly and testing, but also during the moves between buildings for these activities.”

    After removing the first layer of antistatic foil, the teams used 70% isopropyl alcohol to meticulously wipe down the remaining layer, seen here, along with the trailer carrying the rover. Later that day, the rover was moved into the larger main room of the Simulator Building. In the coming weeks, the rover will enter a massive vacuum chamber for surface thermal testing – a weeklong evaluation of how its instruments, systems and subsystems operate in the frigid, near-vacuum environment it will face on Mars.

    JPL is building and will manage operations of the Mars 2020 rover for NASA. The rover will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in July 2020 from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.

    When the rover lands at Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021, it will be the first spacecraft in the history of planetary exploration with the ability to accurately retarget its point of touchdown during the landing sequence.

    Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration plans will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028. We will use what we learn on the Moon to prepare to send astronauts to Mars.

    Interested K-12 students in U.S. public, private and home schools can enter the Mars 2020 Name the Rover essay contest. One grand prize winner will name the rover.

    For more information about the name contest, go to:

    https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/participate/name-the-rover/

    For more information about the mission, go to:
    https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

    See the full article here .


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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

    Caltech Logo

    NASA image

     
  • richardmitnick 9:04 am on August 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "'Rosalind Franklin' Mars rover assembly completed", Airbus' facility in Stevenage, , , , , , Called "Rosalind Franklin" after the British DNA pioneer the six-wheeled robot will search for life on Mars., China and the US are preparing their own rovers for launch in the same departure window as Rosalind Franklin., China's vehicle dubbed XH-1 is a slightly smaller concept., , Development work at component and instrument level has consumed more than a decade., , It is an eight-month cruise to Mars with the landing on an ancient equatorial plain targeted for 19 March 2021., Lift-off atop a Proton rocket is scheduled for July 2020., , NASA MARS 2020 rover, , The new rover follows the design template of the Curiosity robot which landed on Mars in 2012., The Rosalind Franklin rover carries a drill to collect samples from below the Martian surface., The UK made the rover a centrepiece of its space science policy.   

    From BBC: “‘Rosalind Franklin’ Mars rover assembly completed” 

    BBC
    From BBC

    27 August 2019
    Jonathan Amos

    Assembly of the rover Europe and Russia plan to send to the Red Planet next year is complete.

    10
    The rover is named after the British scientist who helped decipher the structure of DNA. MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

    Engineers at Airbus in Stevenage, UK, displayed the finished vehicle on Tuesday ahead of its shipment to France for testing.

    Called “Rosalind Franklin” after the British DNA pioneer, the six-wheeled robot will search for life on Mars.

    It has a drill to burrow 2m below ground to try to detect the presence of microbes, either living or fossilised.

    The project is a joint endeavour of the European and Russian space agencies (ESA and Roscosmos), with input from the Canadians and the US.

    2
    The UK made the rover a centrepiece of its space science policy.

    4
    The Rosalind Franklin rover is nearing completion at Airbus’ facility in Stevenage. EMMA UNDERWOOD/Airbus

    3
    The Rosalind Franklin rover carries a drill to collect samples from below the Martian surface. ESA.

    5
    Kazachok lander: The rover needs a means to get it safely to the surface of Mars. TAS.

    6
    American rovers have established that Mars was certainly habitable – but was it inhabited? NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS [Malin Space Science Systems].

    7
    Jezero Crater shows strong evidence from orbit of past water activity. NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS/BROWN UNIVERSITY

    8
    The new rover follows the design template of the Curiosity robot which landed on Mars in 2012. NASA.

    Although the rover’s build took just nine months, development work at component and instrument level has consumed more than a decade (the initial feasibility study was started in 2004).

    Lift-off atop a Proton rocket is scheduled for July 2020. It is an eight-month cruise to Mars, with the landing on an ancient equatorial plain targeted for 19 March, 2021, around 0600 local Mars time.

    China and the US are preparing their own rovers for launch in the same departure window as Rosalind Franklin.

    China’s vehicle, dubbed XH-1, is a slightly smaller concept. The Americans are assembling a near-copy of the one-tonne Curiosity robot that has been investigating the Red Planet for the past seven years. Their machine is codenamed currently simply Mars 2020.

    NASA Mars 2020 rover schematic

    NASA Mars 2020 Rover

    The roughly 300kg Rosalind Franklin rover is being bagged and boxed, ready to be sent to an Airbus facility in Toulouse this week. It’s in southwest France that a series of checks will ensure the robot can withstand the rigours of interplanetary travel and operation.

    There are actually three outstanding items yet to be integrated on the rover.

    These are the radioisotope heaters that will keep the vehicle warm in the bitter conditions on Mars. But they are a Russian expertise and will not be inserted until just prior to blast-off.

    In parallel with the work on the rover, engineers in Italy at the Thales Alenia Space (TAS) company are preparing the mechanisms required to get the rover safely to, and on to, Mars.

    In Turin on Wednesday, the German cruise spacecraft that will shepherd the robot to the Red Planet, and the Russian descent module, which will protect it as it enters Mars’ atmosphere, will have their first fit-check.

    Eventually, all elements of the mission will meet in Cannes, at another TAS factory, for end-to-end mating and balancing.

    “When the spacecraft is sent to Mars, it will be spinning. Like the wheels on your car, we have to check the balance to make sure everything spins smoothly,” explained Van Odedra, Airbus rover project manager.

    The entire system should be despatched to the Baikonur launch site in April to begin the process of preparing for the Proton lift-off.

    Rosalind Franklin was “superb scientific tool”, said David Parker, Esa’s director of human and robotic exploration.

    “We still have big challenges ahead but mission success is our number one priority.”

    9
    The rover will travel to Mars inside a capsule attached to a German cruise vehicle. ESA.

    What’s the critical next hurdle?

    Currently, there is concern over the readiness of the parachute system that will slow Rosalind Franklin’s descent through Mars’ atmosphere to the surface.

    Engineers have designed a two-chute system: a smaller supersonic envelope that opens first and a big subsonic membrane that opens once the entry speed has become manageable.

    Two tests earlier this year – on both chute types – led to tearing on deployment.

    Pietro Baglioni, ESA’s ExoMars manager, said the problem appeared to stem from the way the parachutes were packed and then extracted – not from the nature of the material used to fabricate them.

    ESA has called in NASA to help with finding a solution because the American agency saw something similar during the development of the parachute system used on the successful Spirit and Opportunity rovers in 2004.

    Further tests are planned for November and February.

    The November demonstration will see engineers travel to Oregon for the launch of a stratospheric balloon.

    This will drop a dummy mass from 30km in altitude; a mortar will fire the supersonic chute out of its container to simulate a Mars descent.

    Mr Baglioni said the November test had “to show that the implemented corrective measures are at least on the right track. Going for a redesign of the entire parachute system is out of the question for a 2020 launch.”

    A formal “go/no-go” decision on the mission is expected early next year.

    Why is Rosalind Franklin important for the UK?

    Tuesday’s send-off in front of the media was a big moment for the UK, which has made the Mars robot a central feature of its space science policy this past decade.

    Britain has invested in the order of €290m (£260m) in the wider Esa-Roscosmos programme, codenamed ExoMars, that also includes a satellite positioned in orbit around the Red Planet. This satellite will act as the relay to send the rover’s data home and, in the other direction, to feed Rosalind Franklin new commands.

    A further £14m (€16m) of UK public money was also set aside specifically for instrument contributions on both the rover and the satellite.

    UK scientists lead the PanCam (the panoramic camera system on the rover), for example, which will take the pictures that help the robot navigate Mars’ terrain and identify the rocks of greatest interest.

    With Rosalind Franklin now about to depart the country, there’s intense interest in a follow-up.

    Study work at Airbus-Stevenage is already considering the design of a rover that would pick up rock samples cached by Mars 2020 during its mission.

    The aim would be to bring these samples back to Earth for a deeper analysis than is possible on Mars with remote laboratory tools.

    The UK will tell its ESA partners when they gather in Spain in November for a major ministerial meeting that it will invest a substantial sum to secure the lead in building the “fetch rover”, as it has become known.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 10:53 am on August 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , European Space Agency's Euclid telescope, , , NASA MARS 2020 rover, , , , NASA's Lucy mission, , Parker Solar Probe Plus,   

    From Science Alert: “Here Are NASA’s Wild Plans to Explore Time And Space For The Next 10 Years” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert

    21 AUG 2019
    MORGAN MCFALL-JOHNSEN

    1
    NASA hopes to reach a dead planet called Psyche. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

    NASA’s 10-year plan involves billions of dollars and spans millions of miles. And much like the universe, it’s only expanding.

    Last year, the agency announced that it’s planning to send astronauts back to the Moon and eventually build a base there, with a Mars-bound mission to follow in the years after that.

    In June, the agency introduced a mission that aims to fly a nuclear-powered helicopter over the surface of Titan, an icy Moon of Saturn’s, to scan for alien life. NASA wants to looking for life in other places too, like the ocean below the icy surface of Jupiter’s Moon Europa.

    Other future missions will try to photograph our entire cosmic history and map the dark matter and dark energy that govern our Universe.

    Here are some of NASA’s biggest and most ambitious plans for the coming decade.
    1. Several ground-breaking NASA missions are already in progress, including the Parker Solar Probe, which will will rocket past the Sun a total of 24 times.

    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker

    Launched: August 12, 2018

    Arrived: November 5, 2018

    The probe is travelling closer to the Sun than anything from Earth before it. The mission aims to investigate the forces behind solar wind, which could inform efforts to protect technology on Earth from the Sun’s flare-ups.

    Parker slingshots around the Sun at record speeds of up to 213,200 mph (343,000 km/h); it’s currently approaching its third close encounter. A powerful heat shield keeps the spacecraft’s equipment cool.

    The Parker Solar Probe will get closer to the sun than any other probe before it. (NASA Goddard/Youtube)

    2. Far from the Sun, New Horizons is exploring the Kuiper Belt, a region of millions of chunks of ice left over from the Solar System’s birth.

    NASA/New Horizons spacecraft

    Kuiper Belt. Minor Planet Center

    Launched: January 19, 2006

    Arrived at Ultima Thule: January 1, 2019

    The New Horizons spacecraft visited Pluto and the ice dwarfs surrounding it in 2015. In January, the spacecraft reached the farthest object anything human-made has ever visited: a snowman-shaped space rock called 2014 MU69 (or Ultima Thule).

    It sent back the following video of Ultima Thule, though it will likely take until late 2020 for scientists to receive and download all the data from New Horizons’ flyby.

    So far, we’ve learned that the primordial object contains methanol, water ice, and organic molecules.

    3. On the surface of Mars, the InSight lander is listening for quakes.

    NASA/Mars InSight Lander

    Launched: May 5, 2018

    Arrived: November 26, 2018

    Since the InSight lander touched down on the surface of the red planet, it has detected dozens of Mars quakes. The early data is giving scientists new insight into the planet’s internal structure.

    4
    Illustration of the InSight lander on Mars. (NASA/JPL-CaltechAn)

    4. A new Mars rover will join InSight next year. NASA is currently building the vehicle in its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    NASA Mars 2020 rover schematic

    NASA Mars 2020 Rover

    5
    Members of NASA’s Mars 2020 project after attaching the rover’s mast. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    5. Researchers hope a future mission to Mars could return the Martian rock samples that the Mars 2020 rover collects back to Earth.

    Planned launch: Unknown

    Anticipated arrival: Unknown

    Until NASA sends another robot to Mars that could launch the stored samples to Earth, the 2020 rover will store the samples in its belly and search for a place on Mars where it can stash them for pickup.

    6
    Proposed Mars Sample Return mission launching samples towards Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    Planned launch: July 2020

    Anticipated arrival: February 2021

    The Mars 2020 rover will search for signs of ancient microbial alien life on the red planet, collect and stash rock samples, and test out technology that could pave the way for humans to walk the Martian surface one day.

    You can tune in to NASA’s live broadcast of the Mars 2020 rover’s construction anytime to watch the US$2.1 billion mission take shape.

    6. NASA eventually hopes to send a crewed mission to Mars. But before that, the agency plans to return astronauts to the Moon and built a lunar base there.

    Planned launch: Unknown

    Anticipated arrival: 2024

    NASA wants to send humans to the Moon again by 2024. Those would be the first boots on the lunar surface since the Apollo program ended over 45 years ago. This time, however, NASA wants to build a Moon-orbiting space station with a reusable lunar-landing system.

    The idea is that the lunar base could allow for more in-depth scientific research of the Moon, and potentially even enable us to mine resources there that could be converted to fuel for further space travel.

    7. From the lunar surface, astronauts may springboard to Mars.

    Planned launch: 2030s

    Anticipated arrival: 2030s

    The next Moon mission will test deep-space exploration systems that NASA hopes will carry humans on to Mars.

    Astronauts travelling to Mars would have to spend about three years away from Earth. In order to explore of the red planet, human travellers would have to be able to use the materials available on the lunar and Martian surfaces.

    NASA is already designing future astronauts’ gear. They’re sending spacesuit material on the Mars 2020 rover to test how it holds up in the planet’s harsh atmosphere. A deep-space habitat competition this year yielded a 3D-printable pod that could be constructed using materials found on Mars.

    6
    Concept illustration of Martian habitats. (JPL/NASA)

    8. NASA also plans to investigate our Solar System’s past by launching a mission to an asteroid belt surrounding Jupiter.

    Planned launch: October 2021

    Anticipated arrival: 2027

    A mysterious swarm of Trojan asteroids – the term for space rocks that follow planets – trail Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun. NASA’s Lucy mission plans to visit six of them.

    “We know very little about these objects,” Jim Green, the leader of NASA’s planetary science program, said in a NASA video. “They may be captured asteroids, comets, or even Kuiper Belt objects.”

    What we do know is that the objects are as old as the Sun, so they can serve as a kind of fossil record of the Solar System.

    9. Relatively nearby, a spacecraft will scan for alien life in the saltwater ocean on Jupiter’s Moon Europa.

    Planned launch: 2020s

    Anticipated arrival: Unknown

    When Galileo Galilei first looked at Jupiter through his homemade telescope in 1610, he spotted four Moons circling the planet. Nearly 400 years later, NASA’s Galileo mission found evidence that one of those Moons, Europa, conceals a vast ocean of liquid water beneath its icy crust.

    NASA is planning to visit that ocean with the Europa Clipper, a spacecraft that will fly by the Moon 45 times, getting as close at 16 miles above the Moon’s surface.

    NASA/Europa Clipper annotated

    Clipper will fly through water vapour plumes that shoot out from Europa’s surface (as seen in the NASA visual above) to analyse what might be in the ocean. Radar tools will also measure the thickness of the ice and scan for subsurface water.

    10. That investigation could help scientists prepare to land a future spacecraft on Europa’s surface and punch through the ice.

    6
    NASA’s Lucy mission visiting asteroids near Jupiter. (Southwest Research Institute)

    Anticipated launch and arrival: Unknown

    The future lander would search for signs of life in the ocean, digging 4 inches below the surface to extract samples for analysis in a mini, on-the-go laboratory.

    11. A nuclear-powered helicopter called Dragonfly will take the search for alien life one planet further, to Saturn’s largest Moon, Titan.

    10
    Dragonfly visiting sampling location on Titan. (NASA)

    Planned launch: 2026

    Anticipated arrival: 2034

    Titan is a world with ice, liquid methane pools, and a thick nitrogen atmosphere. It somewhat resembles early Earth, since it has carbon-rich organic materials like methane and ethane. Scientists suspect that an ocean of liquid water might lurk 60 miles below the ice.

    All that makes Titan a contender for alien life.

    But getting to the distant, cold Moon is not easy – Saturn only gets about 1 percent of the sunlight that bathes Earth, so a spacecraft can’t rely on solar energy. Instead, Dragonfly will propel itself using the heat of decaying plutonium.

    12. Another NASA team is developing a spacecraft to probe the metal core of a dead planet called Psyche.

    Planned launch: 2022

    Anticipated arrival: 2026

    Most of the asteroids in our Solar System are made of rock or ice, but Psyche is composed of iron and nickel. That’s similar to the makeup of Earth’s core, so scientists think Psyche could be a remnant of an early planet that was decimated by violent collisions billions of years ago.

    NASA is sending a probe to find out.

    “This is an opportunity to explore a new type of world – not one of rock or ice, but of metal,” Linda Elkins-Tanton, who’s leading the mission, said in a press release. “This is the only way humans will ever visit a core.”

    If Psyche really is the exposed core of a dead planet, it could reveal clues about the Solar System’s early years.

    The probe NASA plans to send to Psyche would be the first spacecraft to use light, rather than radio waves, to transmit information back to Earth. The agency gave the team the green light to start the final design and early assembly process in June.

    13. NASA also has 176 missions in the works that use CubeSats: 4-by-4-inch cube-shaped nanotechnology satellites.

    11
    Three CubeSats ejected from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory. (NASA)

    NASA is partnering with 93 organisations across the US on these CubeSat projects. Such satellites have already been built and sent to space by an elementary school, a high school, and the Salish Kootenai College of the Flathead Reservation in Montana.

    The first CubeSats sent to deep space trailed behind the InSight Mars lander last year. They successfully sent data from the InSight lander back to Earth as it landed on the Martian surface.

    One planned mission using the nanotechnology will use lasers to search for ice on the Moon’s shadowy south pole. It’s expected to launch in November 2020.

    Another CubeSat mission, also set to launch in 2020, will fly past an asteroid near Earth and send back data. It will be the first exploration of an asteroid less than 100 meters in diameter.

    That data will help scientists plan for future human missions to asteroids, where astronauts might mine resources as they explore deep space.

    14. Closer to home, the European Space Agency’s Euclid telescope will study dark matter and dark energy.

    ESA/Euclid spacecraft

    Planned launch and arrival: 2022

    Dark matter makes up 85 percent of the universe, but nobody is sure what it is. Part of the problem is that we can’t see it because it doesn’t interact with light.

    Dark matter’s gravity holds the entire universe together, while an unknown force called dark energy pushes everything apart. Dark energy is winning, and that’s why the universe is expanding.

    As Euclid orbits Earth, the space telescope will measure the universe’s expansion and attempt to map the mysterious geometry of dark matter and energy.

    NASA is working with the ESA on imaging and infrared equipment for the telescope.

    15. The James Webb Space Telescope, which has a massive, 18-panel mirror, will scan the universe for life-hosting planets and attempt to look back in time to photograph the Big Bang.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    Planned launch and arrival: 2021

    It’s been almost 30 years since the Hubble Space Telescope launched. The James Webb Space Telescope is its planned replacement, and it packs new infrared technology to detect light beyond what the human eye can see.

    The telescope’s goal is to study every phase of the universe’s history in order to learn about how the first stars and galaxies formed, how planets are born, and where there might be life in the universe.

    A 21-foot-wide folding beryllium mirror will help the telescope observe faraway galaxies in detail. A five-layer, tennis court-size shield protects it from the Sun’s heat and blocks sunlight that could interfere with the images.

    16. The James Webb Space Telescope will be capable of capturing extremely faint signals. The farther it looks out into space, the more it will look back in time, so the telescope could even detect the first glows of the Big Bang.

    The telescope will also observe distant, young galaxies in detail we’ve never seen before.

    12
    The expanding universe. (NASA)

    17. The Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is expected to detect thousands of new planets and test theories of general relativity and dark energy.

    NASA/WFIRST

    Planned launch and arrival: mid-2020s

    WFIRST’s field of view will be 100 times greater than Hubble’s. Over its five-year lifetime, the space telescope will measure light from a billion galaxies and survey the inner Milky Way with the hope of finding about 2,600 exoplanets.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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  • richardmitnick 1:30 pm on August 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Cameras on Mars 2020 rover confirmed to have perfect vision", , NASA MARS 2020 rover   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “Cameras on Mars 2020 rover confirmed to have perfect vision” 

    1

    From Spaceflight Insider

    August 7th, 2019
    Laurel Kornfeld

    1
    The Mars 2020 rover is based off of the highly-successful Mars Science Laboratory rover – Curiosity. Photo Credit: JPL / NASA

    NASA Mars 2020 Rover

    NASA Mars 2020 rover schematic

    Tests conducted on several of the cameras that have been installed on the Mars 2020 rover have confirmed that they have perfect, 20/20 This is one of the more critical aspects of the mission as it will help guide the vision.

    2
    A target board with numerous dots was one of the methods used to test the rover’s cameras. Photo Credit: JPL / NASA

    Scheduled for launch in the summer of 2020, the rover will be equipped with a total of 23 cameras–seven for science, nine for engineering, and seven for entry, descent, and landing. The images they take will play crucial functions, including enabling the rover to capture high-resolution zoom images, take panoramic photos, prevent it from crashing into boulders, and guide its robotic arm.

    “We completed the machine-vision calibration of the forward-facing cameras on the rover,” said Justin Maki, chief engineer for imaging and the imaging scientist for Mars 2020 at JPL. “This measurement is critical for accurate stereo vision, which is an important capability of the vehicle.”

    Last month, mission engineers calibrated the cameras placed at the front of the rover for optimal resolution and accuracy by imaging target boards featuring grids of dots at distances ranging from one to 44 yards (one to 40 meters). The tests were conducted on two navigation cameras or Navcams, four hazard-avoidance cameras or Hazcams, the laser- and spectrometer-equipped Supercam, and two high-resolution multispectral stereoscopic imaging cameras known as Mastcam-Zs.

    4
    The Mars 2020 rover is scheduled to begin its journey next year (2020) atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Photo Credit: NASA / JPL

    “We tested every camera on the front of the rover chassis and also those mounted on the mast. Characterizing the geometric alignment of all these imagers is important for driving the vehicle on Mars, operating the robotic arm, and accurately targeting the rover’s laser,” explained imaging scientist and chief engineer for imaging Justin Maki of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) via an agency-issued release.

    Accurate stereo vision on the forward-facing cameras is crucial for the rover to successfully do its job, he added. Using software, Mars 2020 will autonomously drive itself on the Martian surface.

    Cameras mounted on the rover’s rear and on the turret of its robotic arm are the next scheduled to undergo calibration testing. The Navcams, which will be placed on the back of the rover, will work in conjunction with the Hazcams to plan the route Mars 2020 will travel, operate its robotic arm for the purpose of drilling and acquiring soil samples, and prevent the rover from getting lost and/or crashing into hazardous obstacles.

    The Navcams will capture panoramic images in 3D while the SuperCam will photograph rocks and soil in a search for evidence of ancient microbial life. Images taken by the Mastcam-Zs will reveal details in rocks and sediment that mission scientists can then analyze as part of an effort to understand the Red Planet’s geological history.

    Mars 2020‘s overall mission is to search for biosignatures or signs that ancient Mars was once habitable for microbial life. The rover will also collect and store numerous soil and rock samples, which it will place in tubes for collection and return to Earth by a future mission.

    If you ever wanted to send your name to Mars, this mission can provide that opportunity. All you have to do is complete this online form before the Sept. 30 deadline.

    If launch occurs on schedule, Mars 2020 is expected to land on the Red Planet’s surface on Feb. 18, 2021.


    Video courtesy of NASA / JPL

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    SpaceFlight Insider reports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

     
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