Currently, Mars missions are of the top priority of American Space Agency NASA. While it is preparing to launch its revolutionary Mars lander mission-InSight to the Red Planet, it has also started preparations for its Mars 2020 mission to be launched in July 2020.
The NASA technicians have officially begun to assemble, test, and launch operations (ATLO) stage of the development of the Mars rover keeping the project on schedule for an expected launch in 2020. The project is coming together at the Spacecraft Assembly Facility High Bay 1 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) located in Pasadena, California. Engineers and technicians will be working on the rover for the next year and a half and will be adding subsystems like avionics, power, thermal systems, navigation, and telecommunications. They not only will be building the rover but also its cruise stage, aeroshell and descent stage.
The car-sized rover which is about 10 feet long, 9 feet wide, and 7 feet tall weighs less than a compact car. It is designed to assess the geology of its landing site on the planet, determine the habitability of the Martian environment, search for hints of past life and assess natural resources and dangers for potential human missions to the planet. The robot is also programmed to collect samples of rock and soil and leave them behind for future Mars mission to bring back to Earth.
It will be carrying 23 cameras to provide more color and 3D imaging. The engineering cameras fitted on it will be able to capture high-resolution, 20-megapixel color images. The broader field of view would enable it to snap a larger view in a single snapshot. The data collected will be beamed back to Earth using the satellites already orbiting the Mars.
The Mars 2020 rover mission is very crucial, and NASA is leaving no stones unturned to make sure that the rover lands safely on the Martian surface. On 31 March, NASA tested its advanced supersonic Mars parachutes ASPIRE for its Mars 2020 mission. ASPIRE the abbreviated form for Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment was put to the test at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The parachute was launched from an 18-meter-long Terrier-Black Brant IX sounding rocket. The outside conditions were replicated to be similar to that found on Mars. The test was meant to simulate the conditions that the spacecraft would meet during its entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on Mars.
The rover is scheduled to be launch in July 2020 aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.