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Space & Astronomy

Mars 2020 rover to launch within 7 months

By T.K. Randall
December 29, 2019 · Comment icon 19 comments

The rover has undergone successful testing. Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
NASA has confirmed that it has almost completed work on its upcoming robotic Mars exploration rover.
A follow-up to the space agency's Curiosity rover which has been trundling around on the Martian surface since 2012, the still-unnamed Mars 2020 rover looks very similar to its predecessor.

Inside however, it has been equipped with several new additions including a helicopter drone and new scientific instruments designed to search for evidence that Mars was habitable in the distant past.

The rover will also be tasked with collecting samples of soil and leaving them in special caches for a future rover to come and retrieve as part of an ambitious sample-return mission.

In February, the Mars 2020 rover will be shipped to Florida's Kennedy Space Center where it will be fully assembled ahead of its launch from Cape Canaveral's Air Force Station in July.

Its destination will be Jezero Crater - home to pristine sediments dating back 3.5 billion years.
"The trick, though, is that we're looking for trace levels of chemicals from billions of years ago on Mars," said Mars 2020 deputy project manager Matt Wallace.

"Once we have a sufficient set, we'll put them down on the ground, and another mission, which we hope to launch in 2026, will come, land on the surface, collect those samples and put them into a rocket, basically."

Most recently, the rover accomplished a series of rudimentary movement tests designed to ensure that its systems are all operating properly.

"Mars 2020 has earned its driver's license," said lead mobility systems engineer Rich Rieber.

"The test unambiguously proved that the rover can operate under its own weight and demonstrated many of the autonomous-navigation functions for the first time."

Source: Independent | Comments (19)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by tmcom 4 years ago
Comment icon #11 Posted by Twin 4 years ago
I went to and the only specs I found for Rover cameras was for the "Driving around Camera". 20 mega pixels with image size 5120 x 3840 pixels.  At local popular "big box" stores you can get a 20 mp camera for about $150.  
Comment icon #12 Posted by tmcom 4 years ago
Yes, over a billion and they put a p....weak camera up top. The drone on the next one is supposed to be 10 times better, time will tell.
Comment icon #13 Posted by kartikg 4 years ago
I am disappointed that it's just a 20MP camera but I feel this is due to bandwidth limitations. 
Comment icon #14 Posted by toast 4 years ago
It add up very well because dynamic/lifting forces are variables which get influenced by rotor blade shape/design, the size of the blade`s surface and the RPM of the rotor. Simply just that.
Comment icon #15 Posted by toast 4 years ago
Thats correct but whats your point?
Comment icon #16 Posted by tmcom 4 years ago
Sounds dodgy especially from them, but unfortunately they have covered their so well, there is no conflicting evidence at the moment! The drone is light with a huge conterotating blade set, and only goes up for a very short time, compared with times on Earth drones, so if the atmosphere is at Earth levels, we cant tell from this! We will have to wait for a physicist to do the math, or wait. Why they couldn't do a nuclear powered one, (they are planning one for a future mission) is a mystery, probably take too many JPL CS resources?
Comment icon #17 Posted by Twin 4 years ago
My point is that maybe we could afford a much better camera.  
Comment icon #18 Posted by joc 4 years ago
Mastcam-Z The Mastcam-Z is the name of the mast-mounted camera system that is equipped with a zoom function on the Mars 2020 rover. Mastcam-Z has cameras that can zoom in, focus, and take 3D pictures and video at high speed to allow detailed examination of distant objects. Tech Specs Main JobTo take high-definition video, panoramic color and 3D images of the Martian surface and features in the atmosphere with a zoom lens to magnify distant targets LocationMounted on the rover mast at the eye level of a 6 ½-foot-tall person (2 meters tall). The cameras are separated by 9.5 inches (24.2 centime... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by toast 4 years ago
For its purpose the rover`s cam is, compared to your $150 potato, a much better cam for various reasons. Keep in mind the rover cams must operate well and permanently (!) under circumstances and in an environment the $150 potato wouldnt survive for minutes. Rover cams have to undergo and to confess, .e.g., hazardous vibration tests at 5-2000Hz, radiation impact tests, resonance tests, vibroacoustic test with levels up to 165dB and a wide range temperature tests. And not to forget, the images get taken at a distance between 35+250M miles and the data of the images, besides other data, must be t... [More]

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