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Raumfahrt - NASA Mars Rover 2020 Mission-Update-7

30.06.2019

SuperCam instrument integrated on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover

SuperCam instrument integrated on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover

The French/American SuperCam instrument has been delivered early June to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and has been integrated this week on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. The French space agency, CNES, together with university institutes in France, developed the multi-purpose camera to remotely analyze minerals, chemistry, sounds, and test for compounds associated with life, together with the Los Alamos National Laboratory (US). The announcement of the integration was made during the annual meeting of the European Astronomical Society (EWASS2019) in Lyon, that takes place 24-28 June. 

Tomorrow, 28 June, Sylvestre Maurice from IRAP (Toulouse, France) will introduce in his presentation in the SS13 session several past and future analyses carried out on the surface of Mars. 

In 2014, Sylvestre Maurice presented together with Roger Wiens (Los Alamos Laboratory) an upgraded version of ChemCam for the next NASA rover, March 2020. Selected by NASA as the SuperCam, this instrument will take chemical analysis and embark on new ways of Raman and Infra-red measurement for the mineral composition of Mars. The March 2020 mission aims to determine whether life has developed on the surface of Mars and to prepare a set of samples that will be brought back to Earth in future Martian missions, called sample return missions. The Mars 2020 mission will be launched in July 2020.

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The integration of SuperCAM on the rover at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

SuperCam is a souped-up version of ChemCam, which is currently operating aboard the Mars Curiosity rover. ChemCam data has revolutionized our understanding of the geology and atmosphere of Mars, having quantified abundances of elements as rare as lithium and boron as well as making discoveries with more abundant elements in over half a million spectra sent back from the red planet. Its discoveries have contributed to our current understanding of Mars as a once warmer and habitable planet.

SuperCam, with its expanded remote-sensing analysis tools, will yield even more detail than ChemCam about the mineralogy and the presence of compounds related to the possibility of life on the surface of Mars. 

Developed jointly by the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the French space agency, CNES, University laboratories in France, the instrument is ambitious. It combines different techniques at remote distances: Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) for elemental composition, infrared (IR) and Raman spectroscopy, color imaging, and even sound recording through a microphone. NASA called it a “Swiss army knife of instruments” because of its versatility.

The Mars 2020 rover is set to be launched July 2020 and to land within Jezero Crater, Mars, in February 2021. The primary goal of the mission is to search for traces of life in situ, and to prepare samples for their return to Earth in a near future (aka the Mars Sample Return mission). 

The building and testing of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover can be followed live here: 

Quelle: EWAAS
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Update: 2.07.2019
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A Neil Armstrong for Mars: Landing the Mars 2020 Rover

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The view of the Sea of Tranquility rising up to meet Neil Armstrong during the first astronaut landing on the Moon was not what Apollo 11 mission planners had intended. They had hoped to send the lunar module Eagle toward a relatively flat landing zone with few craters, rocks and boulders. Instead, peering through his small, triangular commander's window, Armstrong saw a boulder field - very unfriendly for a lunar module. So the Apollo 11 commander took control of the descent from the onboard computer, piloting Eagle well beyond the boulder field,to a landing site that will forever be known as Tranquility Base.

"There had been Moon landings with robotic spacecraft before Apollo 11," said Al Chen, entry, descent and landing lead for NASA's Mars 2020 mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "But never before had a spacecraft on a descent toward its surface changed its trajectory to maneuver out of harm's way."

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The Mars 2020 mission is facing the most challenging landing yet on the Red Planet. It will touch down on Feb. 18, 2021, in Jezero Crater, a 28-mile-wide (45-kilometer-wide) expanse full of steep cliffs, boulder fields and other things that could boobytrap the landing. A new technology called Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) will allow the spacecraft to avoid hazards autonomously. It's the closest thing to having an astronaut piloting the spacecraft, and the technology will benefit future robotic and human exploration of Mars.

Chen and his Mars 2020 colleagues have experience landing spacecraft on the Red Planet without the help of a steely-eyed astronaut at the stick. But Mars 2020 is headed toward NASA's biggest Martian challenge yet. Jezero Crater is a 28-mile-wide (45-kilometer-wide) indentation full of steep cliffsides, sand dunes, boulders fields and small impact craters. The team knew that to attempt a landing at Jezero - and with a rover carrying 50% more payload than the Curiosity rover, which landed at a more benign location near Mount Sharp - they would have to up their game.

"What we needed was a Neil Armstrong for Mars," said Chen. "What we came up with was Terrain-Relative Navigation."

Carried aboard Mars 2020, Terrain-Relative Navigation (TRN) is an autopilot that during landing can quickly figure out the spacecraft's location over - and more importantly, calculate its future location on - the Martian surface. Onboard, the rover's computer stores a map of hazards within Jezero Crater, and if the computed landing point is deemed too dangerous, TRN will command Mars 2020's descent stage to fly the rover to the safest reachable landing point.

A Two-Part System

To land an Apollo lunar module on the Moon required a crew of two (Armstrong had Buzz Aldrin feeding him information on their trajectory). Likewise, Terrain-Relative Navigation is actually two systems working together: the Lander Vision System and the Safe Target Selection system.

"The first half of Terrain-Relative Navigation is the Lander Vision System [LVS], which determines where the spacecraft is over the Martian surface," said Andrew Johnson, guidance navigation and control subsystem manager for Mars 2020. "If you say it quick - LVS - you'll understand why the team's unofficial mascot is Elvis Presley."

LVS's operational lifetime is all of 25 seconds. It comes alive at about 13,000 feet (3,960 meters), commanding a camera on the rover to quickly take picture after picture of the Martian surface while still descending on a parachute. LVS scrutinizes one image a second, breaking each into squares that cover about 5,000 feet (1,520 meters) of surface area.

However, unlike Neil Armstrong, LVS's real-time analysis isn't looking for specific crater rims or mountain peaks. Instead, inside each of those boxes, or landmarks, the system looks for unique patterns in contrasting light and dark created by surface features like cliffs, craters, boulder fields and mountains. It then compares any uncommon pattern with a map in its memory. When it finds five landmark matches during Coarse Landmark Matching mode, it takes another image and repeats the process.

After three successful image-to-map comparisons, LVS kicks into a mode called Fine Landmark Matching. That's when the system breaks the surface into boxes 410 feet (125 meters) across, scanning for unique patterns and comparing them with the map. LVS is looking for at least 20 matches in that one second of eyeballing an image but usually makes much more - up to 150 - in order to generate an even more accurate plot of Mars 2020's trajectory.

"Each time a suitable number of matches is made in an image, in either Course or Fine Landmark Matching, LVS updates where the spacecraft is at that moment," said Johnson. "That update is then fed into the Safe Target Selection system."

This second part of the Terrain-Relative Navigation system uses LVS's position solution, calculates where it will land and then compares it to another onboard map, this one depicting areas within the landing zone understood to be either good for landing ... or the kind with craters, cliffsides, boulders or rocks fields. If the plotted location isn't suitable, Safe Target Selection can change the rover's destiny, moving its landing point by up to 2,000 feet (600 meters).

Put to the Test

 

While Safe Target Selection operations can be investigated in a computer testbed within the confines of JPL, to gather optical data, the team needed to go farther afield: the Mojave Desert and Death Valley.

Over three weeks in April and May of 2019, LVS flew 17 flights attached to the front of a helicopter, taking and processing image after image over the Mars-like terrain of Kelso Dunes, Hole-in-the-Wall, Lava Tube, Badwater, Panamint Valley and Mesquite Flat Dunes.

"We flew flight after flight, imitating the descent profile of the spacecraft," said Johnson. "In each flight we performed multiple runs. Each run essentially imitated a Mars landing."

All in all, the equivalent of 659 Mars landings took place during the test flights.

"The data is in - TRN works," said Chen. "Which is a good thing because Jezero is where our scientists want to be. And without TRN, the odds of successful landing at a good location for the rover are approximately 85%. With TRN, we feel confident we are up around 99%."

But Chen is also quick to note that Mars is hard: Only about 40% of all missions sent to Mars - by any space agency - have successfully landed.

"To go farther we have to look to the past, and in that respect who better than the first?" said Chen. "In an interview some 35 years after Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong said, 'I think we tried very hard not to be overconfident. Because when you get overconfident, that's when something snaps up and bites you.'"

Mindful of that, the Mars 2020 TRN team's work will conclude only on Feb. 18, 2021, a little after 12 p.m. PST (3 p.m. EST), when their rover alights on Jezero Crater. But it is also just a beginning: Terrain-Relative Navigation's autonomous precision guidance could prove essential to landing humans safely on both the Moon and Mars.TRNcould also be useful for landing equipment in multiple drops ahead of a human crew on either world - or others to be explored down the road.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 14.07.2019

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A Rover Pit Stop at JPL

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A team of engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, install the legs and wheels - otherwise known as the mobility suspension - on the Mars 2020 rover. The imagery for this accelerated time-lapse was taken on June 13, 2019, from a camera above the Spacecraft Assembly Facility's High Bay 1 clean room. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

Constructing an exquisitely complex vehicle like the Mars 2020 rover takes serious teamwork. On June 13, 2019, more than a dozen "bunny suit"-clad engineers rolled past another milestone in the clean room of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, when they integrated the rover's legs and wheels.

The Mars 2020 team could pass for a pit crew in this video clip, which has been sped up by 300% and focuses on the major activities that took place the day the wheels were installed.

A team of engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, install the legs and wheels - otherwise known as the mobility suspension - on the Mars 2020 rover. The imagery for this accelerated time-lapse was taken on June 13, 2019, from a camera above the Spacecraft Assembly Facility's High Bay 1 clean room.

Adding to the complexity of the engineering team's integration effort was the "rocker-bogie" suspension system, which keeps the rover body balanced, enabling it to "rock" up or down, depending on the various positions of the six wheels.

Measuring 20.7 inches (52.5 centimeters) in diameter and machined with traction-providing cleats, or grousers, the wheels seen here are engineering models that will be replaced with flight models next year. Every wheel has its own motor. The two front and two rear wheels also have individual steering motors that enable the vehicle to turn a full 360 degrees in place.

Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July 2020. It will land at Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028. We will use what we learn on the Moon to prepare to send astronauts to Mars.

JPL is building and will manage operations of the Mars 2020 rover for the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 25.07.2019

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Fueling of NASA's Mars 2020 Rover Power System Begins

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The electricity for NASA's Mars 2020 rover is provided by a power system called a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, or MMRTG. The MMRTG will be inserted into the aft end of the rover between the panels with gold tubing visible at the rear, which are called heat exchangers.

NASA's Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, has given the go-ahead to begin fueling the Mars 2020 rover's Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, or MMRTG. The generator will power the rover and help keep it warm while exploring the Red Planet.

"The progression of the Mars 2020 rover project is on schedule," said Zurbuchen. "The decision to begin fueling the MMRTG is another important milestone in keeping to our timetable for a July 2020 launch."

Essentially a nuclear battery, an MMRTG can provide about 110 watts of electrical power to a spacecraft and its science instruments at the beginning of a mission. The excess heat from the generator can also serve to keep spacecraft systems warm in cold environments. In all, 27 past U.S. space missions have used radioisotope power - from the Viking missions on Mars to the Voyager spacecraft entering interplanetary space to, most recently, the Curiosity rover on Mars and the New Horizons spacecraft that sailed past Pluto.

MMRTGs work by converting heat from the natural decay of radioisotope materials into electricity. The generators consist of two major elements: a heat source that contains plutonium-238 (Pu-238) and thermocouples that convert the plutonium's decay heat energy to electricity. The process of loading the heat source into the MMRTG, which the Department of Energy (DOE) manufactured, is timed to a mission's launch date. The Mars 2020 fueling process has been initiated thanks to the continued progress constructing the rover and the spacecraft that will get it there.

"We are advancing on all fronts - including completion of the cruise stage that will guide us to Mars and the sky crane descent landing system that will gently lower us to the surface," said Project Manager John McNamee of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission in Pasadena, California. "And the rover is not only looking more and more like a rover each day, it's acting like one."

With the exception of incorporating the Adaptive Caching Assembly, with its seven motors and more than 3,000 parts, work on the Mars 2020 rover's interior is 100% complete. On the exterior, the most visible additions have been the remote sensing mast, the mobility suspension system, the main robotic arm and the rover's high-gain antenna. The external components of the Mastcam-Z and SuperCam science instruments have been installed on the high perch of the remote sensing mast, and the PIXL and SHERLOC instruments' turret assemblies have been added onto the end of the robotic arm.

"Our Mars 2020 rover is on a historic mission - the first leg of a round trip to Mars," said Zurbuchen. "We want everyone to come along for this extraordinary voyage, whether it's by watching the rover's final assembly online, literally sending your name to go to Mars or following NASA's updates on the mission."

Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July 2020 and land at Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021. It will be the first spacecraft in the history of planetary exploration with the ability to accurately retarget its point of touchdown during the landing sequence - technology that could prove essential to future crewed missions to the Moon and Mars.

NASA will use Mars 2020 and other missions,including those to the Moon,to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. The agency plans to establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans.

JPL is building and will manage operations of the Mars 2020 rover for the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

The DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy develops, manufactures, tests and delivers radioisotope power systems for space exploration and national security missions and maintains responsibility for nuclear safety throughout all aspects of the missions.

NASA's Radioisotope Power Systems program, managed by NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, manages and makes strategic investments in RPS activities, working with the DOE, for heat source production and technology development.

JPL is part of the Radioisotope Power Systems program and manages several missions that utilize radioisotope power, including the Mars Curiosity rover and the upcoming Mars 2020 rover.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 27.07.2019

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Mars 2020 Rover Powers Up for Launch Next Year

NASA’s new Mars 2020 rover is now only about a year away from the start of its mission, and another big step has been taken toward getting ready for launch: the go-ahead has been given to begin fueling the rover’s Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG).

The go-ahead was given by NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen.

“The progression of the Mars 2020 rover project is on schedule,” said Zurbuchen. “The decision to begin fueling the MMRTG is another important milestone in keeping to our timetable for a July 2020 launch.”

The MMRTG is one of the most essential parts of the rover, since it provides power and helps keep the rover warm. At the beginning of a mission, it is able to provide 110 watts of electrical power to a spacecraft and its science instruments. In cold environments like Mars, the excess heat can help to keep a rover or lander nice and warm inside, as well.

MMRTGs are basically nuclear batteries, converting heat from the natural decay of radioisotope materials into electricity.

Such systems have been used in 27 previous NASA missions, including the two Viking landers on Mars, the two Voyager spacecraft, the Curiosity rover on Mars and the New Horizons spacecraft that flew past Pluto and deeper into the Kuiper Belt.

There are two major elements to the MMRTG generators: a heat source that contains plutonium-238 (Pu-238) and thermocouples that convert the plutonium’s decay heat energy to electricity.

The timing is essential, too, as the loading the heat source into the MMRTG, is timed to coincide with a mission’s launch date.

Apart from the power supply, engineers continue to make progress on the construction of the rest of the spacecraft as well.

“We are advancing on all fronts – including completion of the cruise stage that will guide us to Mars and the sky crane descent landing system that will gently lower us to the surface,” said Project Manager John McNamee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “And the rover is not only looking more and more like a rover each day, it’s acting like one.”

The interior of the rover has now been completed, with only the Adaptive Caching Assembly remaining to be installed, which has seven motors and over 3,000 parts altogether.

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Some of the major components of the Mars 2020 rover. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Work on the exterior of the rover continues as well, with the addition of the remote sensing mast, the mobility suspension system, the main robotic arm and the high-gain antenna. Also, the external components of the Mastcam-Z and SuperCam science instruments have been installed on the remote sensing mast, and the PIXL and SHERLOC instruments’ turret assemblies have been added onto the end of the robotic arm.

“Our Mars 2020 rover is on a historic mission – the first leg of a round trip to Mars,” said Zurbuchen. “We want everyone to come along for this extraordinary voyage, whether it’s by watching the rover’s final assembly onlineliterally sending your name to go to Mars or following NASA’s updates on the mission.”

Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July 2020 and land in Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021. It will be able to accurately re-target its touchdown point during the landing sequence, a first in planetary exploration.

Mars 2020 is similar in design to the Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory) rover still exploring Mars in Gale Crater. Unlike Curiosity, however, Mars 2020 will focus on searching for evidence of past life on Mars, rather than just looking for clues to previous habitable geological environments.

Curiosity was recently photographed from orbit again by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, at its current location of Woodland Bay in Gale Crater. This region near the base of Mount Sharp is rich in clays, and Curiosity has been busy taking samples for analysis.

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Elsewhere on Mars, the Curiosity rover was recently photographed from orbit again by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, on May 31, 2019. The rover’s current location is Woodland Bay in the clay-rich terrain near the base of Mount Sharp in Gale Crater. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In Elysium Planitia, the InSight lander removed the support structure of the “mole” instrument, so engineers can try to figure why it isn’t penetrating the ground properly. GIF Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity also detected the largest puff of methane in its mission so far, last month. This still doesn’t answer whether the methane is biological or geological in origin, but it does provide more clues, including about the apparent seasonality of the gas.

The InSight lander in Elysium Planitia, meanwhile, is still monitoring the deep underground of Mars for marsquakes via its Marsquake Service. Such data can tell scientists how geologically active Mars still is (or not) below the surface.

Mission engineers also recently uncovered the self-hammering “mole,” the heat-sensing spike that the lander deployed on the Martian surface. The mole itself has been unable to dig as deep as desired, so the support structure was removed and placed to the side so that engineers have a better view of the mole, to aid in their coming up with a solution.

With Curiosity roving the ancient lakebed of Gale Crater, InSight peering into the depths of Mars and now Mars 2020 getting ready to blast off next year (along with various other international missions), Mars continues to be a busy place, and will be even more so for the next few years.

 

Quelle: AS

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Update: 31.07.2019

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NASA's Mars 2020 Rover Does Biceps Curls

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In this image, taken July 19, 2019, in the clean room of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at JPL, the rover's 7-foot-long (2.1-meter-long) arm maneuvers its 88-pound (40-kilogram) sensor-laden turret as it moves from a deployed to a stowed configuration. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

The robotic arm on NASA's Mars 2020 rover does not have deltoids, triceps or biceps, but it can still curl heavy weights with the best. In this time-lapse video, taken July 19, 2019, in the clean room of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the rover's 7-foot-long (2.1-meter-long) arm handily maneuvers 88 pounds' (40 kilograms') worth of sensor-laden turret as it moves from a deployed to a stowed configuration.

In this time-lapse video, taken July 19, 2019, in the clean room of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at JPL, the rover's 7-foot-long (2.1-meter-long) arm maneuvers its 88-pound (40-kilogram) sensor-laden turret as it moves from a deployed to a stowed configuration. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The rover's arm includes five electrical motors and five joints (known as the shoulder azimuth joint, shoulder elevation joint, elbow joint, wrist joint and turret joint). The rover's turret includes HD cameras, the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals (SHERLOC) science instrument, the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), and a percussive drill and coring mechanism.

On Mars, the arm and turret will work together, allowing the rover to work as a human geologist would: by reaching out to interesting geologic features, abrading, analyzing and even collecting them for further study via Mars 2020's Sample Caching System, which will collect samples of Martian rock and soil that will be returned to Earth by a future mission.

"This was our first opportunity to watch the arm and turret move in concert with each other, making sure that everything worked as advertised - nothing blocking or otherwise hindering smooth operation of the system," said Dave Levine, integration engineer for Mars 2020. "Standing there, watching the arm and turret go through their motions, you can't help but marvel that the rover will be in space in less than a year from now and performing these exact movements on Mars in less than two."

Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July 2020. It will land at Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028. We will use what we learn on the Moon to prepare to send astronauts to Mars.

JPL is building and will manage operations of the Mars 2020 rover for the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 3.08.2019

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MEDLI2 Installation on Mars 2020 Aeroshell Begins

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Hardware installed onto NASA's Mars 2020 entry vehicle this week will help to increase the safety of future Mars landings.

Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028. NASA will use its Moon missions along with robotic missions to Mars to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

The Mars Entry, Descent and Landing Instrumentation 2 (MEDLI2) project developed a suite of sensors that will measure aerothermal environments and the performance of thermal protection system (TPS) material during the entry phase on the Mars 2020 mission. Engineers installed the first batch of items delivered by MEDLI2 onto the heat shield of the entry vehicle this week. The aeroshell of the entry vehicle consists of a heat shield and backshell and will protect the Mars 2020 rover in transit from Earth to Mars and during the entry through the atmosphere of Mars on its way to the surface.

"Understanding the actual performance of our current generation of entry vehicles is crucial to safe, reliable landing of future robotic and crewed Mars missions. MEDLI2 pressure and thermal measurements are the key to that understanding," said Todd White, MEDLI2 principal investigator.

MEDLI2 recently completed environmental testing on flight hardware at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. The testing, including vibration and thermal vacuum testing, demonstrates the ability of the hardware to survive the large vibratory loads experienced during the launch and the extreme cold during the cruise to Mars. High-temperature sterilization of some of the hardware has also been successfully concluded, allowing MEDLI2 to minimize the potential of transporting terrestrial biological material unintentionally to the surface of Mars. All of the MEDLI2 components are set to be completely installed on the Mars 2020 aeroshell by the end of November 2019.

MEDLI2 includes three types of sensors (thermocouples, heat flux sensors and pressure transducers), a data acquisition and signal conditioning unit (the Sensor Support Electronics Unit) to record the heating and atmospheric pressure experienced during entry and through parachute deployment, and the harnessing between the sensors and the Sensor Support Electronics unit. Building on the first MEDLI suite, which flew on NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, instrumentation is again being applied to the heat shield, but in a different configuration to better measure the flow characteristics. This time instrumentation is being installed on the backshell as well to collect measurements of the heating and the surface pressure to aid in reducing the large uncertainty applied to the current predicted results.

The Mars 2020 spacecraft will enter Mars' atmosphere traveling about 12,500 mph (20,120 kph). MEDLI2 will start to collect data about five hours prior to the entry and continue to collect data throughout the entry and part of the descent phases. It will take about 6 minutes to slow the spacecraft from 12,500 mph (20,120 kph) to just under 2 mph (3 kph). MEDLI2 will measure crucial entry and descent performance data on the Mars 2020 heat shield and backshell.

MEDLI2 flight data will fill critical space entry, descent and landing knowledge gaps which would advance current EDL technology. This technology also has the potential to reduce TPS mass by up to 35%, which would result in significant cost reductions. This technology and data will also help reduce the size of the landed footprint (the uncertainty footprint) allowing access to sites with high scientific interest that might otherwise be difficult to reach.

"Uncertainties in our ability to model and predict the performance of an entry vehicle and the associated thermal protection system mean that large margins (100% to 200%) need to be included in our predictions to ensure the entry vehicle can survive the worst case conditions," said Henry Wright, MEDLI2 project manager. "Flight data will allow the uncertainties in the models to be further reduced leading to a more accurate prediction of the loads and performance."

The key objectives of MEDLI2 are to reduce design margin and prediction uncertainties for the aerothermal environments and aerodynamic database. Close analysis of MEDLI2 flight data is vital to future NASA exploration of the Red Planet. MEDLI2 will explore areas not addressed during the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission and seek answers to questions generated from examining MEDLI/MSL data.

MEDLI2 is a Game Changing Development project led by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate with support from the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and the Science Mission Directorate. The project is managed at Langley and implemented in partnership with NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is building and will manage operations of the Mars 2020 rover for the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. NASA will use Mars 2020 and other missions, including to the Moon, to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. The agency intends to establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans.

To submit your name to travel to Mars with NASA's 2020 mission and obtain a souvenir boarding pass to the Red Planet, go here by Sept. 30, 2019:

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 7.08.2019

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NASA 'Optometrists' Verify Mars 2020 Rover's 20/20 Vision

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Equipped with visionary science instruments, the Mars 2020 rover underwent an "eye" exam after several cameras were installed on it. The rover contains an armada of imaging capabilities, from wide-angle landscape cameras to narrow-angle high-resolution zoom lens cameras.

"We completed the machine-vision calibration of the forward-facing cameras on the rover," said Justin Maki, chief engineer for imaging and the imaging scientist for Mars 2020 at JPL. "This measurement is critical for accurate stereo vision, which is an important capability of the vehicle."

To perform the calibration, the 2020 team imaged target boards that feature grids of dots, placed at distances ranging from 1 to 44 yards (1 to 40 meters) away. The target boards were used to confirm that the cameras meet the project's requirements for resolution and geometric accuracy. The cameras tested included two Navcams, four Hazcams, the SuperCam and the two Mastcam-Z cameras.

"We tested every camera on the front of the rover chassis and also those mounted on the mast," said Maki. "Characterizing the geometric alignment of all these imagers is important for driving the vehicle on Mars, operating the robotic arm and accurately targeting the rover's laser."

In the coming weeks, the imagers on the back of the rover body and on the turret at the end of the rover's arm will undergo similar calibration.

Mounted on the rover's remote sensing mast, the Navcams (navigation cameras) will acquire panoramic 3D image data that will support route planning, robotic-arm operations, drilling and sample acquisition. The Navcams can work in tandem with the Hazcams (hazard-avoidance cameras) mounted on the lower portion of the rover chassis to provide complementary views of the terrain to safeguard the rover against getting lost or crashing into unexpected obstacles. They'll be used by software enabling the Mars 2020 rover to perform self-driving over the Martian terrain.

Along with its laser and spectrometers, SuperCam's imager will examine Martian rocks and soil, seeking organic compounds that could be related to past life on Mars. The rover's two Mastcam-Z high-resolution cameras will work together as a multispectral, stereoscopic imaging instrument to enhance the Mars 2020 rover's driving and core-sampling capabilities. The Mastcam-Z cameras will also enable science team members to observe details in rocks and sediment at any location within the rover's field of view, helping them piece together the planet's geologic history.

JPL is building and will manage operations of the Mars 2020 rover for the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. NASA will use Mars 2020 and other missions, including to the Moon, to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. The agency intends to establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans.

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Quelle: NASA

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Update: 16.08.2019

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Robotic Toolkit Added to NASA's Mars 2020 Rover

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In this August 5, 2019 image, the bit carousel - the heart of sampling and caching subsystem of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission - is attached to the front end of the rover.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The bit carousel — a mechanism that will play a key role in the acquisition, containment and eventual return to Earth of humanity's first samples from another planet — has been incorporated into NASA's Mars 2020 rover.

 

"The bit carousel is at the heart of the sampling and caching subsystem," said Keith Rosette, Mars 2020 sample handling delivery manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "It contains all of the tools the coring drill uses to sample the Martian surface and is the gateway for the samples to move into the rover for assessment and processing."

 

Looking somewhat like an extraterrestrial version of a 1960s slide projector, Mars 2020's bit carousel is home to nine drill bits that facilitate sample acquisition and surface analysis: two for abrading, one for regolith (rock and soil) and six for coring. The coring and regolith bits are used to place Martian samples in a clean sample collection tube, while the abrader bit is used to scrape the top layers of rocks to expose un-weathered surfaces for study.

 

When the rover team is ready to drill, the carousel whirrs into action. If, for instance, the goal is to abrade, the carousel maneuvers the appropriate bit into position so that the drill at the end of the rover's robotic arm can extract it. Once the drilling's done, the bit goes back into the carousel.

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n this image, taken on Aug. 5, 2019, engineers at NASA's JPL lift the Mars 2020 rover's bit carousel from its storage container. The bit carousel is at the heart of the rover's Sample Caching System.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

For core sampling, a sample tube is inserted inside the appropriate bit before the carousel moves the combination into position for the drill. Once the sample tube has been filled, the robotic arm returns the drill bit and tube to the carousel, where they wend their way to processing stations and storage.

 

"The bit carousel was the last piece of the Mars 2020 rover's Sample Caching System to be installed," said JPL's John McNamee, project manager of Mars 2020. "And while the rover interior is essentially complete — a battery and a camera used during landing are planned in coming weeks — the assembly and test team will not be resting on their laurels. Months of evaluation and fine tuning lie ahead to make absolutely certain this rover is on the launch pad and ready to go on July 17, 2020."  

 

Mars 2020 will land on Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

 

JPL is building and will manage operations of the Mars 2020 rover for the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. NASA will use Mars 2020 and other missions, including to the Moon, to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. The agency intends to establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans.

 

To submit your name to travel to Mars with NASA's 2020 mission and obtain a souvenir boarding pass to the Red Planet, go here by Sept. 30, 2019:

Quelle: NASA

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