NASA’s Mars 2020 rover must function by itself in a harsh surroundings, hundred of thousands and thousands of miles from the closest mechanic. However for now, it’s nonetheless in improvement at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab – and each milestone is a vital one. Together with supporting its personal weight, totally assembled and resting by itself six wheels, which is what the rover managed this week.
This stand-up check is one in every of many the rover is present process, together with testing its nuclear-powered engine, its means to maneuver its wheels, its sensor arrays and navigation techniques. The six-wheeled robotic exploration platform is readying for its scheduled July 2020 launch, which can see it despatched to the Crimson Planet to hold on and increase the mission of the Mars Curiosity rover.
Curiosity launched in 2011, and landed on Mars in August of 2012. This earlier rover was designed for a two-year mission, nevertheless it bought an indefinite mission extension in 2012, and it’s nonetheless operational after switching computer systems earlier this yr following a crash – a full seven years after its unique touchdown.
The Mars 2020 rover has acquired quite a few upgrades vs. Curiosity, which you’d in all probability count on on condition that the group creating the newer rover has the good thing about a number of years of expertise operating a robotic rover platform on the floor of Mars. Mars 2020 options upgrades like improved environmental sturdiness, and it’ll carry a number of various scientific and analysis tools to enrich Curiosity’s capabilities.