NASA's Mars 2020 mission will be their most ambitious trip to the Red Planet so far. The Mars 2020 Rover is packed with the latest high-tech instruments, and while the mission is not to start until next summer, the tension is already increasing significantly.
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The mast of the Mars 2020 rover is equipped with lenses and various sensors that allow Earth scientists to gain deeper insight into the Martian surface than ever before. However, the mast for the journey between Earth and Mars is actually folded flat.
During the launch of Mars 2020, the interplanetary cruise and its fast and fiery descent to the Martian surface, the mast will be stowed flat on the Rover's deck. Shortly after touchdown, the mast (rising above 2.2 m) is raised to provide a high seat height for the SuperCam, Mastcam Z and Mars ambient dynamics analyzers and the four Navcam cameras for engineers.
This is a whole series of high-tech treats that must work perfectly, and putting everything together takes time. According to JPL, the selfie pictured above was taken on June 5 after the mast was first installed, but the full integration of the various instruments took another six days.
The launch of the Mars 2020 mission is scheduled for July 17, 2020, but it will not arrive until February 2021 on the Red Planet. We still have some time to wait, but once the rover is on the Red Planet, he'll surely be able to share some surprising discoveries with us.
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