NASA: Perseverance (Mars 2020) - Next Generation Rover

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Mars Helicopter Attached to Mars 2020 Rover

Post by bystander » Thu Aug 29, 2019 8:45 pm

Mars Helicopter Attached to Mars 2020 Rover
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2019 Aug 28
Engineers attached NASA's Mars Helicopter, which will be the first aircraft to fly on another planet, to the belly of the Mars 2020 rover today in the High Bay 1 clean room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The twin-rotor, solar-powered helicopter was connected, along with the Mars Helicopter Delivery System, to a plate on the rover's belly that includes a cover to shield the helicopter from debris during entry, descent and landing. The helicopter will remain encapsulated after landing, deploying to the surface once a suitable area to conduct test flights is found at Jezero Crater, the rover's destination.

The Mars Helicopter is considered a high-risk, high-reward technology demonstration. If the small craft encounters difficulties, the science-gathering of the Mars 2020 mission won't be impacted. If the helicopter does take flight as designed, future Mars missions could enlist second-generation helicopters to add an aerial dimension to their explorations. ...
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NASA Invites Students to Name Next Mars Rover

Post by bystander » Thu Aug 29, 2019 8:51 pm

NASA Invites Students to Name Next Mars Rover
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2019 Aug 28
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Name NASA's Next Mars Rover! ~ Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Red rover, red rover, send a name for Mars 2020 right over! NASA is recruiting help from students nationwide to find a name for its next Mars rover mission.

Starting Tuesday, 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 and be invited to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The Name the Rover contest is part of NASA’s efforts to engage students in the STEM enterprise behind Mars exploration and inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. ...

To enter the contest, students must submit by Nov. 1 their proposed rover name and a short essay, no more than 150 words, explaining why their proposed name should be chosen. The essays will be divided into three groups, by grade level -- K-4, 5-8, and 9-12 -- and judged on the appropriateness, significance and originality of their proposed name, and the originality and quality of their essay, and/or finalist interview presentation. ...
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Mars 2020 Comes Full Circle

Post by bystander » Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:34 pm

Mars 2020 Comes Full Circle
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2019 Sep 12
Engineers took NASA's Mars 2020 for a spin on Aug. 29, 2019. The 2,300-pound (1,040-kilogram) Martian vehicle was rotated clockwise and counterclockwise at about 1 revolution per minute on what is called a spin table in the clean room of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (The rotation was speeded up in the video above.) The engineers were looking for the rover's center of gravity, or the point at which weight is evenly dispersed on all sides.

Establishing the rover's center of gravity is a key part of the assembly process and helps ensure that the spacecraft travels smoothly from launch to entry, descent and landing on Mars as calculated. Engineers can add weights in order to help balance out the vehicle. In the end, they affixed nine tungsten weights totaling 44 pounds (20 kilograms) to the rover chassis at predetermined attachment points to get the center of gravity just right. ...

This was the assembled rover's first spin table test to determine its center of gravity; a second and final spin table test will occur at a NASA facility at Cape Canaveral in Florida next spring. ...
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Mars 2020 Rover Tests Descent-Stage Separation

Post by bystander » Sat Oct 05, 2019 5:03 pm

Mars 2020 Rover Tests Descent-Stage Separation
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2019 Oct 24
In this picture from Sept. 28, 2019, engineers and technicians working on the assembly and testing of the Mars 2020 spacecraft look on as a crane lifts the rocket-powered descent stage away from the rover. They've just completed a successful separation test at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"Firing the pyrotechnic devices that held the rover and descent stage together and then doing the post-test inspection of the two vehicles was an all-day affair," said Ryan van Schilifgaarde, a support engineer for Mars 2020 assembly at JPL. "With this test behind us, the rover and descent stage go their separate ways for a while. Next time they are attached will be at the Cape next spring during final assembly."

Both the rover and descent stage will ship to Cape Canaveral, Florida, this winter. Before then there'll be a battery of tests for the Mars 2020 rover, including an evaluation of its computers and mechanical systems in Mars-like conditions. Called the Surface Thermal Test, it involves subjecting the car-size Mars vehicle to atmospheric pressures and temperatures similar to those it will encounter on the Red Planet. ...
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Mars 2020 Unwrapped and Ready for More Testing

Post by bystander » Fri Oct 25, 2019 6:54 pm

Mars 2020 Unwrapped and Ready for More Testing
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2019 Oct 18
In this time-lapse video, taken on Oct. 4, 2019, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, bunny-suited engineers remove the inner layer of protective antistatic foil on the Mars 2020 rover after the vehicle was relocated from JPL's Spacecraft Assembly Facility to the Simulator Building 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 (just prior this time-lapse), 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. ...
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Mars 2020 Stands on Its Own Six Wheels

Post by bystander » Fri Oct 25, 2019 6:58 pm

Mars 2020 Stands on Its Own Six Wheels
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2019 Oct 24
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
This time-lapse video, taken on Oct. 8, 2019, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, captures the first time NASA's Mars 2020 rover has carried its full weight on its legs and wheels. ...

The rover's legs (the black tubing visible above the wheels) are composed of titanium, while the wheels are made of aluminum. Measuring 20.7 inches (52.5 centimeters) in diameter and machined with traction-providing cleats, or grousers, the wheels are engineering models that will be replaced with flight models next year. Every wheel has its own motor. The two front and two rear wheels also have individual steering motors that enable the vehicle to turn a full 360 degrees in place.

When driving over uneven terrain, the rover's "rocker-bogie" suspension system — called that because of its multiple pivot points and struts — maintains a relatively constant weight on each wheel for stability. Rover drivers avoid terrain that would cause the vehicle to tilt more than 30 degrees, but even so, the rover can handle a 45-degree tilt in any direction without tipping over. It can also roll over obstacles and through depressions the size of its wheels. ...
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Mars 2020 Heads Into the Test Chamber

Post by bystander » Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:08 pm

Mars 2020 Heads Into the Test Chamber
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2019 Nov 07
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In this time-lapse video, taken on Oct. 9, 2019, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, bunny-suited engineers move the Mars 2020 rover from a high bay in the Spacecraft Simulator Building into the facility’s large vacuum chamber for testing in Mars-like environmental conditions.

"Whenever you move the rover, it is a big deal," said Mars 2020 engineer Chris Chatellier of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "There is a technician on every corner, and other engineers and safety inspectors are monitoring and assisting every step of the way. Every move is choreographed, briefed and rehearsed."

After chamber testing, the 2020 rover was moved back to JPL's Spacecraft Assembly Facility where it is undergoing radio-emissions testing. ...
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At Future Mars Landing Spot, Mineral Could Preserve Signs of Ancient Life

Post by bystander » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:46 pm

At Future Mars Landing Spot, Mineral Could Preserve Signs of Ancient Life
Brown University | 2019 Nov 12

Using orbital instruments to peer into Jezero crater, the landing site for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, researchers found deposits of hydrated silica, a mineral that’s great at preserving microfossils and other signs of life.

Next year, NASA plans to launch a new Mars rover to search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet. A new study shows that the rover’s Jezero crater landing site is home to deposits of hydrated silica, a mineral that just happens to be particularly good at preserving biosignatures.

“Using a technique we developed that helps us find rare, hard-to-detect mineral phases in data taken from orbiting spacecraft, we found two outcrops of hydrated silica within Jezero crater,” said Jesse Tarnas ... “We know from Earth that this mineral phase is exceptional at preserving microfossils and other biosignatures, so that makes these outcrops exciting targets for the rover to explore.”

NASA announced late last year that its Mars 2020 rover would be headed to Jezero, which appears to have been home to an ancient lake. The star attraction at Jezero is a large delta deposit formed by ancient rivers that fed the lake. The delta would have concentrated a wealth of material from a vast watershed. Deltas on Earth are known to be good at preserving signs of life. Adding hydrated silica to the mix at Jezero increases that preservation potential, the researchers say. One of the silica deposits was found on the edge of the delta at low elevation. It’s possible that the minerals formed in place and represent the bottom layer of the delta deposit, which is a great scenario for preserving signs of life. ...

Orbital Identification of Hydrated Silica in Jezero Crater, Mars ~ J. D. Tarnas et al
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Mars 2020 Will Hunt for Microscopic Fossils

Post by bystander » Thu Nov 14, 2019 6:47 pm

Mars 2020 Will Hunt for Microscopic Fossils
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2019 Nov 12
Scientists with NASA's Mars 2020 rover have discovered what may be one of the best places to look for signs of ancient life in Jezero Crater, where the rover will land on Feb. 18, 2021.

A paper published today in the journal Icarus identifies distinct deposits of minerals called carbonates along the inner rim of Jezero, the site of a lake more than 3.5 billion years ago. On Earth, carbonates help form structures that are hardy enough to survive in fossil form for billions of years, including seashells, coral and some stromatolites - rocks formed on this planet by ancient microbial life along ancient shorelines, where sunlight and water were plentiful.

The possibility of stromatolite-like structures existing on Mars is why the concentration of carbonates tracing Jezero's shoreline like a bathtub ring makes the area a prime scientific hunting ground. ...

In addition to preserving signs of ancient life, carbonates can teach us more about how Mars transitioned from having liquid water and a thicker atmosphere to being the freezing desert it is today. Carbonate minerals formed from interactions between carbon dioxide and water, recording subtle changes in these interactions over time. In that sense, they act as time capsules that scientists can study to learn when - and how - the Red Planet began drying out. ...

The Mineral Diversity of Jezero Crater: Evidence for Possible
Lacustrine Carbonates on Mars
~ Briony H.N.Horgan et al
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Two of a Space Kind: Apollo 12 and Mars 2020

Post by bystander » Fri Nov 22, 2019 9:53 pm

Two of a Space Kind: Apollo 12 and Mars 2020
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2019 Nov 20
Fifty years ago today, during their second moonwalk, Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr. and Alan Bean became the first humans to reach out and touch a spacecraft that had previously landed on another celestial body. NASA's 1969 Apollo 12 Moon mission and the upcoming Mars 2020 mission to the Red Planet may be separated by half a century and targets that are 100 million miles apart, but they share several mission goals unique in the annals of space exploration.

"We on the Mars 2020 project feel a special kinship with the crew of Apollo 12," said John McNamee ... "They achieved the first precision landing, deployed the most advanced suite of science instruments of the time, and were the first to interact with another spacecraft that put down on another world. That's all part of the Mars 2020 playbook as well."

NASA needed Apollo 12 to prove a precision landing was possible because future Apollo missions would target locations in the lunar highlands, where mountains, massive craters, boulder fields and rilles could ruin their day if the lunar modules strayed from their prescribed landing path...

Mars 2020 will be history's first planetary mission to include terrain relative navigation, a computerized autopilot that utilizes optical imagers and computers to help Mars 2020 avoid landing hazards and make the most accurate landing on a planetary body in history.

There are other similarities. During their first moonwalk, Conrad and Bean deployed the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments package (ALSEP). Powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator, the five science instruments (seismometer, atmospheric sensor, solar wind spectrometer, lunar dust collector and magnetic field sensor) were the most advanced ever to be carried to another celestial body, and they sent back groundbreaking data on the lunar environment from November 1969 to September 1977. When Mars 2020 alights at Jezero Crater, it also will be equipped with the most advanced science instruments ever to travel to another world. ...
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Two Rovers to Roll on Mars Again: Curiosity and Mars 2020

Post by bystander » Mon Dec 16, 2019 7:51 pm

Two Rovers to Roll on Mars Again: Curiosity and Mars 2020
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars Exploration Program | 2019 Dec 10
Curiosity won't be NASA's only active Mars rover for much longer. Next summer, Mars 2020 will be headed for the Red Planet. While the newest rover borrows from Curiosity's design, they aren't twins: Built and managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, each has its own role in the ongoing exploration of Mars and the search for ancient life. Here's a closer look at what sets the siblings apart.

Landing in 2004 to "follow the water," the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity discovered evidence that the planet once hosted running water before becoming a frozen desert. But when did this happen and why?

NASA launched the supersized Curiosity rover to learn more. Since landing in 2012, Curiosity has been roaming Gale Crater, which, it discovered, contained a lake billions of years ago and an environment that could have supported microbial life. The rover is still hunting for clues related to this environment as it ascends the 3-mile-tall (5-kilometer-tall) Mount Sharp, which sits within Gale Crater and was partially formed by water.

Some 3,760 miles (6,050 kilometers) away, Mars 2020 will also explore a landscape shaped by water: Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient delta. But 2020 will take the next scientific step: It will look for actual signs of past life, or biosignatures, capturing samples of rocks and soil that could be retrieved by future missions and returned to Earth for in-depth study. ...
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Mars 2020 Rover Completes Its First Drive

Post by bystander » Thu Dec 19, 2019 7:04 pm

Mars 2020 Rover Completes Its First Drive
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2019 Dec 18
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First Drive Test of NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover ~ Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA's next Mars rover has passed its first driving test. A preliminary assessment of its activities on Dec. 17, 2019, found that the rover checked all the necessary boxes as it rolled forward and backward and pirouetted in a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The next time the Mars 2020 rover drives, it will be rolling over Martian soil. ...

Mars 2020 is designed to make more driving decisions for itself than any previous rover. It is equipped with higher-resolution, wide-field-of-view color navigation cameras, an extra computer "brain" for processing images and making maps, and more sophisticated auto-navigation software. It also has wheels that have been redesigned for added durability.

All these upgrades allow the rover to average about 650 feet (200 meters) per Martian day. To put that into perspective, the longest drive in a single Martian day was 702 feet (214 meters), a record set by NASA's Opportunity rover. Mars 2020 is designed to average the current planetwide record drive distance. ...
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Mars 2020 Closer to Getting Its Name

Post by bystander » Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:18 pm

Mars 2020 Closer to Getting Its Name
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2020 Jan 13
NASA's Mars 2020 rover is one step closer to having its own name after 155 students across the U.S. were chosen as semifinalists in the "Name the Rover" essay contest. Just one will be selected to win the grand prize — the exciting honor of naming the rover and an invitation to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The currently unnamed rover is a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds (1,000 kilograms). It will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet's climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. ...

With more than 28,000 essay submissions received from K-12 students, NASA recruited volunteer contest judges from every U.S. state and territory. Nearly 4,700 eligible judge volunteers were selected from a diverse pool of educators, professionals, and space enthusiasts and were instrumental in selecting the semifinalists.

The next phases of judging will reduce the competition to nine finalists, and the public will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite name online in late January. The results of the poll will be a consideration in the final naming selection. ...
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Nine Finalists Chosen in Mars 2020 Naming Contest

Post by bystander » Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:32 pm

Nine Finalists Chosen in Mars 2020 Naming Contest
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2020 Jan 21
...
The nine finalists (submission name, grade level, student name and state) are:
  • Endurance, K-4, Oliver Jacobs of Virginia
  • Tenacity, K-4, Eamon Reilly of Pennsylvania
  • Promise, K-4, Amira Shanshiry of Massachusetts
    .
  • Perseverance, 5-8, Alexander Mather of Virginia
  • Vision, 5-8, Hadley Green of Mississippi
  • Clarity, 5-8, Nora Benitez of California
    .
  • Ingenuity, 9-12, Vaneeza Rupani of Alabama
  • Fortitude, 9-12, Anthony Yoon of Oklahoma
  • Courage, 9-12, Tori Gray of Louisiana
The poll opens online today and will remain open through Jan. 27 until 9 p.m. PST (midnight EST). The results of the poll will be a consideration in the final naming selection. ...
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All About the Mars 2020 Rover's Laser and Microphone

Post by bystander » Sat Feb 08, 2020 1:02 am

All About the Laser (and Microphone) Atop Mars 2020
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2020 Feb 07
NASA is sending a new laser-toting robot to Mars. But unlike the lasers of science fiction, this one is used for studying mineralogy and chemistry from up to about 20 feet (7 meters) away. It might help scientists find signs of fossilized microbial life on the Red Planet, too.

One of seven instruments aboard the Mars 2020 rover that launches this summer, SuperCam was built by a team of hundreds and packs what would typically require several sizable pieces of equipment into something no bigger than a cereal box. It fires a pulsed laser beam out of the rover's mast, or "head," to vaporize small portions of rock from a distance, providing information that will be essential to the mission's success. ...

Using a laser beam will help researchers identify minerals that are beyond the reach of the rover's robotic arm or in areas too steep for the rover to go. It will also enable them to analyze a target before deciding whether to guide the rover there for further analysis. Of particular interest: minerals that formed in the presence of liquid water, like clays, carbonates and sulfates. Liquid water is essential to the existence of life as we know it, including microbes, which could have survived on Mars billions of years ago.

Scientists can also use the information from SuperCam to help decide whether to capture rock cores for the rover's sample caching system. Mars 2020 will collect these core samples in metal tubes, eventually depositing them at a predetermined location for a future mission to retrieve and bring back to Earth. ...
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Mars 2020 Goes Coast-to-Coast

Post by bystander » Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:28 pm

Mars 2020 Goes Coast-to-Coast to Prep for Launch
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2020 Feb 12

The agency's first step in returning rocks from Mars just arrived at Kennedy Space Center. The Mars 2020 team now begins readying for a launch to the Red Planet this July.

NASA's next Mars rover has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for its launch to the Red Planet this July. An Air Force C-17 Globemaster cargo plane carrying the Mars 2020 rover and descent stage touched down at NASA's Kennedy Space Center at about 3 p.m. EST (12 p.m. PST) today, completing a 2,300-mile (3,700-kilometer) trip that began yesterday at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The mission's cruise stage and Mars Helicopter will make the trip to Kennedy later this week. ...

Assembly, test and launch operations for Mars 2020 began in January 2018. The first piece of hardware that would become part of the rover arrived on the clean room floor of JPL's Spacecraft Assembly Facility's High Bay 1 a few months later.

The rover's aeroshell - its protective covering for the trip to the Red Planet - arrived at Kennedy this past December. Early on Feb. 11, the rover, cruise stage, descent stage and mission support equipment headed in four police-escorted trucks to the U.S. Air Force's March Air Reserve Base, where they were loaded aboard the two waiting C-17s.

Within hours of arriving at the Kennedy Space Center's Launch and Landing Facility, the Mars 2020 spacecraft components will be transported to the same spacecraft processing facility that in 2011 handled NASA's Curiosity rover, which is currently exploring Mars' Gale Crater. In the coming days, the Mars 2020 assembly, test and launch operations team will begin testing the components to assess their health following the cross-country flight.

After months of final assembly and additional testing, Mars 2020 should be enclosed in its aeroshell for the final time in late June. It will be delivered to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41 to be integrated with the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that will hurl it toward Jezero Crater in early July. ...

Mars 2020 Rover Makes its Way to Kennedy
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 | 2020 Feb 13
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Virginia Student Names Mars 2020 "Perseverance"

Post by bystander » Fri Mar 06, 2020 4:45 pm

Virginia Middle School Student Earns Honor of Naming NASA's Next Mars Rover
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 - Perseverance | 2020 Mar 05

NASA chose seventh-grader from Virginia as winner of the agency's "Name the Rover" essay contest. Alexander Mather's entry for "Perseverance" was voted tops among 28,000 entries.

Click to play embedded YouTube video.
NASA's next Mars rover has a new name – Perseverance.

The name was announced Thursday by Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate, during a celebration at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia. Zurbuchen was at the school to congratulate seventh grader Alexander Mather, who submitted the winning entry to the agency’s "Name the Rover" essay contest, which received 28,000 entries from K-12 students from every U.S. state and territory.

"Alex’s entry captured the spirit of exploration,” said Zurbuchen. “Like every exploration mission before, our rover is going to face challenges, and it’s going to make amazing discoveries. It’s already surmounted many obstacles to get us to the point where we are today – processing for launch. Alex and his classmates are the Artemis Generation, and they’re going to be taking the next steps into space that lead to Mars. That inspiring work will always require perseverance. We can’t wait to see that nameplate on Mars.” ...
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Perseverance Gets Its Sample Handling System

Post by bystander » Fri Mar 20, 2020 5:23 pm

Perseverance Gets Its Sample Handling System
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 - Perseverance | 2020 Mar 19

The system will be collecting and storing Martian rock and soil. Its installation marks another milestone in the march toward the July launch period.

With the launch period for NASA's Mars Perseverance rover opening in a little less than four months, the six-wheeler is reaching significant pre-launch milestones almost daily at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rover had some components removed prior to being shipped from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California to the Cape in early February. Last week, Perseverance's assembly, test and launch operations team integrated two components that will play key roles in the acquisition, containment and eventual return to Earth of humanity's first samples from another planet: the Adaptive Caching Assembly and the Bit Carousel.

The Bit Carousel contains the nine drill bits Perseverance will use to sample Martian rock and dust. Attached to the top front of the rover on March 7 and resembling a flying saucer, it also is the gateway for the samples to move into the belly of the rover for assessment and processing by the Adaptive Caching System.

Installed on March 3, the Adaptive Caching Assembly consists of seven motors and more than 3,000 parts, all working in unison to collect samples from the surface of Mars. A chief component of the assembly is the Sample Handling Arm, which will move sample tubes to the main robotic arm's coring drill and then transfer the filled sample tubes into a space to be sealed and stored.

The installation and testing of the electrical wiring for both the Adaptive Caching Assembly and Bit Carousel were completed on March 11. ...
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The Man Who Wanted to Fly on Mars

Post by bystander » Fri Apr 03, 2020 5:02 pm

The Man Who Wanted to Fly on Mars
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 Perseverance | 2020 Apr 01
Even before this interviewer can finish the question, "Did anyone ever tell you this was a crazy idea?" Bob Balaram jumps in: "Everyone. All the time."

This "crazy idea" is the Mars Helicopter, currently at Kennedy Space Center waiting to hitch a ride to the Red Planet on the Mars Perseverance rover this summer.

Although Balaram probably didn't know it at the time, the seed for an idea like this sprouted for him in the 1960s Apollo era, during his childhood in south India. His uncle wrote to the U.S. Consulate, asking for information about NASA and space exploration. The bulging envelope they sent back, stuffed with glossy booklets, entranced young Bob. His interest in space was piqued further by listening to the Moon landing on the radio. "I gobbled it up," he says. "Long before the internet, the U.S. had good outreach. You had my eyeballs."

His active brain and fertile imagination focused on getting an education, which would lead him to a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, a master's and Ph.D. in computer and systems engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a career at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. That's where he has remained for 35 years as a robotics technologist.

Balaram's career has encompassed robotic arms, early Mars rovers, technology for a notional balloon mission to explore Venus and a stint as lead for the Mars Science Laboratory entry, descent and landing simulation software. ...
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alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
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Perseverance Gets Its Wheels and Air Brakes

Post by bystander » Sat Apr 04, 2020 4:05 pm

Perseverance Gets Its Wheels and Air Brakes
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 Perseverance | 2020 Apr 03
Final assembly and testing of NASA's Perseverance rover continues at Kennedy Space Center in Florida as the July launch window approaches. In some of the last steps required prior to stacking the spacecraft components in the configuration they'll be in atop the Atlas V rocket, the rover's wheels and parachute have been installed.

Perseverance received its six flight wheels on March 30, 2020. While the rover took a test drive last December, it was on "flight spares" that wouldn't be making the trip to Mars. Designed for the kind of off-roading Perseverance will perform on the Red Planet, the wheels are re-engineered versions of the ones NASA's Curiosity has been using on its traverses of Mount Sharp.

Machined out of a block of flight-grade aluminum and equipped with titanium spokes, each wheel is slightly larger in diameter and narrower than Curiosity's, with skins that are almost a millimeter thicker. They also feature new treads, or grousers: In place of Curiosity's 24 chevron-pattern treads are 48 gently curved ones. Extensive testing in the Mars Yard at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which built the rover and manages operations, has shown these treads better withstand the pressure from sharp rocks and grip just as well or better than Curiosity's when driving on sand. ...
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Mars Helicopter Attached to Perseverance

Post by bystander » Sat Apr 11, 2020 3:02 pm

Mars Helicopter Attached to Perseverance
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Mars 2020 ~ Perseverance | 2020 Apr 10
With the launch period of NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover opening in 14 weeks, final preparations of the spacecraft continue at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In the past week, the assembly, test and launch operations team completed important milestones, fueling the descent stage — also known as the sky crane — and attaching the Mars Helicopter, which will be the first aircraft in history to attempt power-controlled flight on another planet. ...

After the descent stage fueling, the system that will deliver the Mars Helicopter to the surface of the Red Planet was integrated with Perseverance. The helicopter, which weighs 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) and features propellers 4 feet (1.2 meters) in diameter, is cocooned within the delivery system. In one of the first steps in the day-long process on April 6, technicians and engineers made 34 electrical connections between the rover, the helicopter and its delivery system on the rover's belly. After confirming data and commands could be sent and received, they attached the delivery system to the rover.

Finally, the team confirmed the helicopter could receive an electrical charge from the rover. Before being deployed onto the surface of Jezero Crater, the Mars Helicopter will rely on the rover for power. Afterward, it will generate its own electrical power through a solar panel located above its twin counter-rotating propellers.

The helicopter will remain encapsulated on the rover's belly for the next year and will be deployed around the beginning of May — roughly two-and-a-half months after Perseverance's landing. Once the rover drives about 330 feet (100 meters) away and the helicopter undergoes an extensive systems check, it will execute a flight-test campaign for up to 30 days. ...

NASA Helicopter Ready to Hitch a Ride to the Red Planet
NASA | Kennedy Space Center | 2020 Apr 10
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Perseverance Mars Rover Gets Balanced

Post by bystander » Wed Apr 22, 2020 4:19 pm

Perseverance Mars Rover Gets Balanced
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Perseverance (Mars 2020) | 2020 Apr 20

The mission team performed a crucial weight-balancing test on the rover in preparation for this summer's history-making launch to the Red Planet.

Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Testing Perseverance's Center of Gravity ~ Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA's next rover is rotated on special test fixture in preparation for its upcoming
summertime launch to Mars, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, 2020 April 06.

With 13 weeks to go before the launch period of NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover opens, final preparations of the spacecraft continue at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On April 8, the assembly, test and launch operations team completed a crucial mass properties test of the rover.

Precision mass properties measurements are essential to a safe landing on Mars because they help ensure that the spacecraft travels accurately throughout its trip to the Red Planet - from launch through its entry, descent and landing.

On April 6, the meticulous three-day process began with Perseverance being lifted onto the rover turnover fixture. The team then slowly rotated the rover around its x-axis - an imaginary line that extends through the rover from its tail to its front - to determine its center of gravity (the point at which weight is evenly dispersed on all sides) relative to that axis.

The team then moved the rover to a spin table. To minimize friction that could affect the accuracy of the results, the table's surface sits on a spherical air bearing that essentially levitates on a thin layer of nitrogen gas. To determine center of gravity relative to the rover's z-axis (which extends from the bottom of the rover through the top) and y-axis (from the rover's left to right side), the team slowly rotated the vehicle back and forth, calculating the imbalance in its mass distribution. ...
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NASA/JPL/Mars 2020

Post by bystander » Fri May 01, 2020 6:47 pm

Alabama High School Student Names NASA's Mars Helicopter
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Perseverance | 2020 Apr 29
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
The first aircraft that will attempt powered flight on another world has a new name!
Meet Ingenuity – NASA’s Mars Helicopter. And the inspiration for the name? We owe
that credit to Vaneeza Rupani, an 11th grader from Northport, Alabama.

Destined to become the first aircraft to attempt powered flight on another planet, NASA's Mars Helicopter officially has received a new name: Ingenuity.

Vaneeza Rupani, a junior at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama, came up with the name and the motivation behind it during NASA's "Name the Rover" essay contest.

"The ingenuity and brilliance of people working hard to overcome the challenges of interplanetary travel are what allow us all to experience the wonders of space exploration," Rupani wrote in her contest submission. "Ingenuity is what allows people to accomplish amazing things, and it allows us to expand our horizons to the edges of the universe." ...

"Ingenuity encapsulates the values that our helicopter tech demo will showcase for everyone when it takes off next year as the first aircraft on another planet’s surface," said Bridenstine. "It took a lot of hard and ingenious work to get the helicopter ready and then placed on the rover, and there’s a lot more going to be required. I was happy we had another great name from the naming contest finalists from which I was able to select something so representative of this exciting part of our next mission to Mars." ...
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Perseverance Will Look at Mars Through These 'Eyes'

Post by bystander » Fri May 01, 2020 7:06 pm

Perseverance Will Look at Mars Through These 'Eyes'
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Perseverance | 2020 May 01
When it launches this summer, NASA's Perseverance rover will have the most advanced pair of "eyes" ever sent to the Red Planet's surface: Its Mastcam-Z instrument packs a next-gen zoom capability that will help the mission make 3D imagery more easily. Rover operators, who carefully plan out each driving route and each movement of a rover's robotic arm, view these stereo images through 3D goggles to see the contours of the landscape.

Located on Perseverance's "head," Mastcam-Z (the Z stands for "zoom") is a more advanced version of Mastcam, which NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has relied on to produce gorgeous panoramas of the Martian landscape. But it does more than that, and so will Mastcam-Z: Along with producing images that enable the public to follow the rover's daily discoveries, the cameras provide key data to help engineers navigate and scientists choose interesting rocks to study. The difference is that Curiosity's Mastcam can't zoom. ...

Instead, Curiosity's Mastcam has one telephoto lens and one wide-angle lens. Images are taken through each and can be combined to produce stereo views. But the wide-angle lens takes in far more of the landscape in a single shot than the telescopic one; it requires up to nine telescopic images to match.

Perseverance's Mastcam-Z simplifies matters, zooming both lenses until they match and can be used to make a single 3D image. This is both easier and requires sending fewer images — and less data — to Earth. ...
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Perseverance Scientists Train in the Nevada Desert

Post by bystander » Fri May 08, 2020 2:58 pm

Perseverance Scientists Train in the Nevada Desert
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Perseverance | 2020 May 06

Team members searched for signs of ancient microscopic life there, just as NASA's newest rover will on the Red Planet next year.

Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Billions of years ago, the Martian surface could have supported microbial life as we know it. But did such life ever actually exist there? NASA and its Mars 2020 mission hope to find out with the Perseverance rover, which launches to the Red Planet this summer.

Scientists have sought answers to astrobiological questions on Earth, studying regions similar enough to Mars to understand what the Red Planet's microscopic fossil record might look like. One research trip late last year involved fossilized microbes in the Australian Outback. Earlier this year, seven mission scientists headed to a dry lakebed in Nevada as 150 worked with them remotely for the Rover Operations Activities for Science Team Training, aka the ROASTT.

Rather than bringing a car-sized rover, the seven field team members stood in for it. Wielding cameras and portable spectrometers during simulated operations spread out over a two-week period, they received instructions from the scientists located elsewhere, just as the rover will after it lands on Feb. 18, 2021. ...
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
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