NASA's next Mars mission is slowly converging in a "clean room" in California. Engineers at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory assembled the capsule that will secure the Mars 2020 Rover for the wild ride to the surface of the Red Planet.
After leaving the Earth next summer, Mars will be flying towards the Red Planet for about seven months with a spectacular entry to the target, including a repeat of the famous sequence "7 minutes of terror" NASA's Curiosity Rover was brought to the surface of the planet in 2012. (The Mars 2020 Rover and Curiosity have similar body frames, although they carry different instruments.) Therefore, all parts in the entry capsule of Mars 2020 need to be backed up in a process called "stacking."
"Stacking is an important milestone in mission development because it is as good as our computer models. Emagazine.credit-suisse.com/app/art … = 1
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The batch process includes both the Genuine Rover as well as a replacement rover. The latter is being tested to make sure everything fits before the real flight hardware is used.
In the most recent reviews, the technicians placed the missile stripping stage on the replacement rover. After making sure that the holes in the platform and the surrogate were in line, carefully inspect them before lowering the back shell that protects the rover from entering the Martian atmosphere and check alignment.
The team then tested the fit of a parachute cone. This vital piece will protect the parachute as the Mars 2020 shell fires into the atmosphere. Once the fiery entry is over, Mars 2020 can safely use the parachute to slow down its descent.
The Mars 2020 team completed the current stacking tests on April 3. Next, the spacecraft was sent to JPL's Environmental Test Facility for audition. should simulate the sound waves they will encounter at the start. When these tests are complete, you will need to search for loose bolts or mounting points in the next step. If everything looks good, the stack spends a week in a thermal vacuum chamber simulating the space environment to ensure that the stack holds together during the cruise to Mars.
Even if the thermal tests are completed, the test is not nearly possible. The stacked spacecraft is brought to its assembly site for unstacking, then testing and working. "Nothing is static on this mission," Gruel said. "Until the bolts of the Atlas rocket fly to Mars in July 2020, something is almost always assembled, tested or modified."
It's a lot of work, but NASA has an ambitious mission that has to meet Mars 2020 . The Rover is looking for signs of ancient Martian life, thus taking a step behind the successful scientific findings of Curiosity. ( Curiosity has found much evidence of possible habitability, such as water, organic molecules and methane, but it is not meant to search for life itself.) Mars 2020 will also provide the basis for future rovers caching samples in sealed tubes that will retrieve a later mission for better analysis on Earth.