Rover Builder Mission 5

The Mission Planner, created by Michael Oborne, does a lot more than its name. Here are some of the features: Point-and-click waypoint entry, using Google Maps/Bing/Open street maps/Custom WMS.

In May 2011, SPACE.com reporter Mike Wall visited NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., as scientists and engineers were wrapping up work on Curiosity, NASA's next Mars rover. With Curiosity's launch planned for Saturday (Nov. 26), this is his account.It could be a scene from a James Bond film — a glimpse into the archvillain's lair.Anonymous white-clad workers, their faces obscured by surgical masks, cross a cavernous, high-ceilinged room.

They pause to adjust or inspect large pieces of mysterious equipment, some of which is spangled with bright gold foil. It's obvious that they're building something complicated and important.But they're not assembling a doomsday device, because this is no movie. The white-garbed technicians are employees at JPL, and they're putting the finishing touches on the space agency's next rover mission to. This mission is called the Mars Science Laboratory, and the rover at the heart of it is a.I'm watching the technicians from a viewing gallery about 30 feet (9 meters) above a clean room at JPL's Spacecraft Assembly Facility in May 2011.

JPL has been putting spaceships together for 50 years, so scenes like the one taking place below me are routine here.But for me, taking all this in is a novel, surreal and thrilling experience. I'm looking at gear that, come next August, will be cruising around the surface of another planet. Pieces of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in May 2011. From left: the Curiosity rover (along rear wall; its tires are on a table to the rover's right), the entry-descent-landing stage, the cruise stage and the backshell. (Image credit: Mike Wall)The next Mars rover, in pieces on the floorThe $2.5 billion is slated to launch Saturday (Nov. 26) and drop Curiosity onto the Red Planet's surface in August 2012. The rover's primary task will be to assess whether Mars is, or ever was, capable of supporting microbial life.Most of the pieces of the mission are laid out beneath me in the clean room.'

Do you know what you're looking at?' Theisinger has agreed to meet and chat with me, as part of a larger tour I'm taking of JPL.Theisinger guides me through the various MSL components, starting with Curiosity, which sits near the far wall. It's tough to peg the craft as a rover at the moment; it's been flipped onto its back, and its six wheels are off. Two technicians are elbow-deep in its electronic guts, reworking some of the rover's avionics and cabling.A zoomed-in view shows the rocket-powered sky crane (foreground) that will lower NASA's Curiosity rover to the Martian surface.

In the background, technicians work on the cruise stage that will get Curiosity to the Red Planet. This photo was taken in May 2011 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif. (Image credit: Mike Wall)Farther along the back wall, close to the room's right-rear corner, is MSL's cruise stage. This ring-shaped structure, about 13 feet (4 m) wide, will propel Curiosity and its associated parts through space to Mars, taking over where the mission's launch vehicle, an Atlas 5 rocket, leaves off.A white-clad worker sits inside the ring, making some inscrutable check or adjustment. He, like the other technicians, wears a white mask and head-to-toe coveralls to minimize the chances of contaminating MSL with dust or microbes.A new landing systemIn front of the cruise stage, between it and the rover, sits the entry-descent-landing system. This is a novel and fantastic-seeming piece of technology — a that will lower Curiosity to the Martian surface on cables while hovering in mid-air.Theisinger chuckles a bit when I say this sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie.'

I know, I know,' he says. But he and the MSL team have faith in the system, which performed very well in full-up simulations.' We're pretty confident that this will work,' Theisinger says. 'We've done everything that we know how to do' to test it. Technicians at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory work on the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity in May 2011. The rover is upside-down, and its six wheels are off (they rest on a table, at far right of the photo). (Image credit: Mike Wall)Just in front of the cruise stage sits the backshell, a white, gumdrop-shaped structure that will encase the rover and landing system.

The only MSL piece missing, aside from the launch vehicle, is the heat shield, which will protect the mission's components from the fiery temperatures experienced during. The heat shield is in Colorado at the moment, Theisinger says.The work being done with Curiosity and other MSL parts consists of final tweaks and checks, to wrap up everything ahead of delivery to the Florida launch site, which occurred in late June.Learning more about CuriosityCuriosity is a big, burly rover that will allow scientists to learn much more about the Martian environment, both past and present.

Curiosity weighs about 2,000 pounds (909 kilograms), compared to 375 pounds (170 kg) for each of its predecessors, the highly accomplished twin.Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars in January 2004 to look for. They found a lot of it.Curiosity will go a step further, assessing the Martian landscape for habitability during its planned two-year mission.The rover will use 10 different science instruments to do this job, which will involve characterizing rock in minute detail and searching for organic molecules, among other tasks.Curiosity boasts a five-jointed, 7-foot (2.1-m) robotic arm, which by itself weighs nearly half as much as Spirit or Opportunity. This arm will help in sample acquisition and analysis, and it has a drill that will be able to bore about 2 inches (5 centimeters) into Martian rock. No previous rover has had this deep-drilling ability, and the MSL team is pretty pumped about it.' For geologists that study rocks, there's nothing better than getting inside,' MSL deputy project scientist Joy Crisp told me, after I'd said goodbye to Theisinger and the clean room. During our meeting, she gave me in-depth information on Curiosity's science payload and objectives.I also met with JPL's Kevin Burke, who has led much of the work in developing the tools on Curiosity's arm.

Burke described the processes involved in designing, building and testing such a complex suite of equipment, which must work perfectly together on the frigid surface of an alien planet.Burke also talked about some late re-work that had just been done on the drill's force sensor, which tells the rover how hard it's pressing on the drill.It was a fascinating day. When I left JPL, my head was full of facts, diagrams and visions of Curiosity roving about the Martian surface. Burke said I should come back to JPL to watch MSL's landing in August. I've already got it circled on my calendar.You can follow SPACE.com senior writer Mike Wall on Twitter:. Follow SPACE.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter and on.

←Mars 2020 is a mission by 's that includes the rover with a planned launch on 17 July 2020, and touch down in on Mars on 18 February 2021. It will investigate an relevant ancient environment on Mars and investigate its surface and history, including the assessment of its past, the possibility of past, and the potential for preservation of within accessible geological materials. It will cache sample containers along its route for a potential future. The Mars 2020 mission was announced by NASA on 4 December 2012 at the fall meeting of the in San Francisco. The Perseverance rover's design is derived from the, and will use many components already fabricated and tested, new scientific instruments and a. Bit trip saga part 1. It will also carry a. Model of the sample caching system to be carried aboard Perseverance, supporting a possible future sample-return missionThe mission will seek signs of on Mars in the ancient past, and will also search for evidence—or —of past microbial life.

The Perseverance rover is planned for launch in 2020 on an, and the will manage the mission. The mission is part of NASA's.

The Science Definition Team proposed that the rover collect and package as many as 31 samples of rock cores and surface soil for a later mission to bring back for definitive analysis on Earth. In 2015, they expanded the concept, planning to collect even more samples and distribute the tubes in small piles or caches across the surface of Mars. In September 2013, NASA launched an Announcement of Opportunity for researchers to propose and develop the instruments needed, including the Sample Caching System. The science instruments for the mission were selected in July 2014 after an open competition based on the scientific objectives set one year earlier. The science conducted by the rover's instruments will provide the context needed for detailed analyses of the returned samples. The chairman of the Science Definition Team stated that NASA does not presume that life ever existed on Mars, but given the recent findings, past Martian life seems possible.The Perseverance rover will explore a site likely to have been habitable. It will seek signs of past life, set aside a returnable cache with the most compelling rock core and soil samples, and demonstrate technology needed for the future human and robotic exploration of Mars.

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A key mission requirement is that it must help prepare NASA for its long-term and efforts. The rover will make measurements and technology demonstrations to help designers of a future understand any hazards posed by Martian dust, and will test technology to produce a small amount of pure oxygen ( O2) from Martian atmospheric ( ). Improved precision landing technology that enhances the scientific value of robotic missions also will be critical for eventual human exploration on the surface. Based on input from the Science Definition Team, NASA defined the final objectives for the 2020 rover. Those become the basis for soliciting proposals to provide instruments for the rover's science payload in the spring of 2014. The mission will also attempt to identify, improve landing techniques, and characterize, and other potential environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts living and working on Mars.A key mission requirement for this rover is that it must help prepare NASA for its (MSR) campaign, which is needed before any takes place. Such effort would require three additional vehicles: an orbiter, a fetch rover, and a.

Between 20 and 30 drilled samples will be collected and cached inside small tubes by the Perseverance rover, and will be left on the surface of Mars for possible later retrieval by NASA in collaboration with. A 'fetch rover' would retrieve the sample caches and deliver them to a. In July 2018, NASA contracted to produce a 'fetch rover' concept study. The MAV would launch from Mars and enter a 500 km orbit and with. The sample container would be transferred to an which would bring it to Earth, enter the atmosphere under a parachute and hard-land for retrieval and analyses in specially designed safe laboratories. Spacecraft Perseverance.

The cruise stage and EDLS will carry both spacecraft to Mars's engineering team were involved in the rover's design. Engineers redesigned the Perseverance rover wheels to be more robust than Curiosity 's wheels, which have sustained some damage. The rover will have thicker, more durable aluminum wheels, with reduced width and a greater diameter (52.5 cm, 20.7 in) than Curiosity 's 50 cm (20 in) wheels. The aluminum wheels are covered with cleats for traction and curved titanium spokes for springy support. The combination of the larger instrument suite, new Sampling and Caching System, and modified wheels makes Mars 2020 heavier than its predecessor, Curiosity, by 17% (899 kg to 1050 kg). The rover will include a five-jointed robotic arm measuring 7 feet (2.1 m) long. The arm will be used in combination with a turret to analyze geologic samples from the Martian surface.

A (MMRTG), left over as a backup part for Curiosity during its construction, will power the rover. The generator has a mass of 45 kilograms (99 lb) and uses 4.8 kilograms (11 lb) of as the source of steady supply of heat that is converted to electricity. The electrical power generated is approximately 110 watts at launch with little decrease over the mission time.

Two are included to meet peak demands of rover activities when the demand temporarily exceeds the MMRTG's steady electrical output levels. The MMRTG offers a 14-year operational lifetime, and it was provided to NASA by the. Unlike solar panels, the MMRTG provides engineers with significant flexibility in operating the rover's instruments even at night and during dust storms, and through the winter season. Mars Helicopter. Main article:The Mars Helicopter is a robotic helicopter that will test the technology to scout interesting targets for study on, and help plan the best driving route for Perseverance. The spacecraft will be deployed from the rover's deck, and is expected to fly up to five times during its 30-day test campaign early in the mission. Each flight will take no more than 3 minutes, at altitudes ranging from 3 m to 10 m above the ground, but it could potentially cover a maximum distance of about 600 m (2,000 ft) per flight.

It will use autonomous control and communicate with Perseverance directly after each landing. If it works as expected, NASA will be able to build on the design for future Mars missions. EDLS The three major components of the Mars 2020 spacecraft are the cruise stage for travel between Earth and Mars; the System (EDLS) that includes the, parachute, descent vehicle, and; and the Perseverance rover.

The rover is based on the design of. While there are differences in scientific instruments and the engineering required to support them, the entire landing system (including the and heat shield) and rover chassis can essentially be recreated without any additional engineering or research. This reduces overall technical risk for the mission, while saving funds and time on development. One of the upgrades is a guidance and control technique called 'Terrain Relative Navigation' (TRN) to fine-tune steering in the final moments of landing.

This system will allow for a landing accuracy within 40 m (130 ft) and avoid obstacles. This is a marked improvement from the mission that had an elliptical area of 7 by 20 km (4.3 by 12.4 mi). In October 2016, NASA reported using the to test the Lander Vision System (LVS), as part of the Autonomous Descent and Ascent Powered-flight Testbed (ADAPT) experimental technologies, for the Mars 2020 mission landing, meant to increase the landing accuracy and avoid obstacle hazards. The delta, where the Perseverance rover and Mars Helicopter will land; clays are visible as green in this false colour imageThe rover mission and launch are estimated to cost about US$2.1bn. The mission's predecessor, the, cost $2.5bn in total. The availability of spare parts makes the new rover somewhat more affordable.

The mission has a current launch window of 17 July to 5 August 2020, where the positions of Earth and Mars are optimal for traveling to Mars. The rover is scheduled to land on Mars on 18 February 2021, with a planned surface mission of at least 1 Mars year (668 or 687 Earth days). The mission will explore, which scientists speculate was a 250 m (820 ft) deep lake about 3.9 billion to 3.5 billion years ago. Jezero today features a prominent river delta where water flowing through it deposited lots of sediment over the eons, which is 'extremely good at preserving '. The sediments in the delta likely include carbonates and hydrated silica, known to preserve microscopic fossils on Earth for billions of years. Prior to the selection of Jezero, eight proposed landing sites for the mission were under consideration by September 2015; in, Jezero crater, and Southwestern. A workshop was held on 8-10 February 2017 in Pasadena, California, to discuss these sites, with the goal of narrowing down the list to three sites for further consideration.

The three sites chosen were Jezero crater, Northeastern Syrtis Major Planum, and Columbia Hills. Jezero crater was ultimately selected as the landing site in November 2018. Public outreach To raise public awareness of the Mars 2020 mission, NASA undertook a 'Send Your Name to Mars' campaign, through which people could send their names to Mars on a microchip stored aboard Perseverance. After registering their names, participants received a digital ticket with details of the mission's launch and destination. 10,932,295 names were submitted during the registration period. In addition, NASA announced in June 2019 that a student naming contest for the rover will be held in the fall of 2019, voting on nine finalist names was held in January 2020, and was announced on 5 March 2020.

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