NASA: 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
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
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
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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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