NASA’s Mars Rover Stands on Its Wheels for the First Time

Press Release

NASA’s mission to Mars is one step closer to completion, as a time-lapse video captured at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory situated in Pasadena, California on October 8, 2019, shows the rover carrying its’ full weight on its’ wheels and legs for the first time.

Ben Riggs, a mechanical systems engineer at JPL working on the Mars 2020 project, said that it was fantastic to see the rover standing on its’ wheels for the first time after a long time of design, analysis, and testing. He expressed his optimism that the whole team is looking forward to “seeing her in the same configuration on Mars in the not too distant future.”

The rover’s navigation system is composed of legs made of titanium and the wheels made up of aluminum. The wheels, measuring 52.5 centimeters in diameter, have built-in traction-providing cleats to help in navigating the Red planet. Each wheel also has its own motor, with the front two and rear two wheels having individual controlling engines that allow the vehicle to turn 360 degrees. A flight model will replace the wheels, currently an engineering model, next year.

The rover’s ‘rocker-bogie’ suspension, appropriately nicknamed due to its’ numerous pivot points, helps the rover to maintain a relatively consistent weight on each wheel, maintaining stability as the rover moves over uneven terrain. The rover is capable of handling tilts of up to 45 degrees, though generally, the rover avoids terrain that would cause it to tilt more than 30 degrees. The rover can move through depressions and over obstacles as big as its’ wheels.

The rover will be launched to space on United Launch Alliance Atlas V spacecraft at Space Launch Complex 41 located in Cape Canaveral Air Force base Station in July 2020. The spacecraft had undergone a series of tests at the Simulator building in JPL, which included a broad assessment of how the rover’s instruments will cope in the cold, near-vacuum conditions of Mars. The Launch Services Program of NASA will be liable for deploying the rover.

NASA’s Artemis lunar investigation is expected to build up support for the upcoming Mars mission, with the planned manned missions by 2024 set to provide information crucial in the preparation to send astronauts to Mars. The rover is slotted to land at Jezero Crater on 2021 February 18, and will be first spacecraft to precisely retarget its landing point while landing. 

This post was originally published on Financial Sector

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