NASA's Mars 2020 Rover Mission has marked another milestone with a successful separation test of the descent stage, bringing the six-wheeled robot to the surface of the Red Planet.
On September 28, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, a crane was deployed to lift off the large rocket-propelled sink from the rover.
It was an all-day affair to detonate the pyrotechnic devices that hold the rover and descent phases together and then carry out the verification of the two vehicles, "said Ryan van Schilifgaarde, a support engineer for the Mars 2020 assembly at JPL, a statement from NASA.
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Mars 2020, which will shortly be given a new name is based heavily on the NASA Curiosity Rover, which has been exploring the Mars Gale crater since August 201
The Mars 2020 Rover is set to launch a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July 2020. The spacecraft will be launched at Jeze on February 18, 2021 ro-crater of the Red Planet and search for signs of livable environment and evidence of past microbes.
If everything goes according to plan, the Mars 2020 rover is said to be the first spacecraft in the history of planetary exploration capable of pinpointing its touchdown point during the landing sequence.
"With this test behind us, rover and descent go their separate ways for a while," van Schilifgaarde said in the statement . "The next time they are attached, they will be at the Cape next spring during final assembly."
Before shipping the Mars 2020 Rover and the Descent to Cape Canaveral, JPL's engineers will continue to test Rover's computers and mechanical systems under Mars-like Conditions . For example, a surface-thermal test simulates the atmospheric temperatures and pressures that the rover will experience on Mars. Follow Samantha Mathewson @ Sam_Ashley13 . Follow us on Twitter @SpaceTotcom and Facebook .