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Raumfahrt - NASA Mars Rover 2020 Mission-Update-10

12.04.2020

Mars Helicopter Attached to NASA's Perseverance Rover

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The Mars Helicopter and its Mars Helicopter Delivery System were attached to the Perseverance Mars rover at Kennedy Space Center on April 6, 2020. The helicopter will be deployed about two-and-a-half months after Perseverance lands. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

With the launch period of NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover opening in 14 weeks, final preparations of the spacecraft continue at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In the past week, the assembly, test and launch operations team completed important milestones, fueling the descent stage - also known as the sky crane - and attaching the Mars Helicopter, which will be the first aircraft in history to attempt power-controlled flight on another planet.

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The Mars Helicopter, visible in lower center of the image, was attached to the belly of NASA's Perseverance rover at Kennedy Space Center on April 6, 2020. The helicopter will be deployed onto the Martian surface about two-and-a-half months after Perseverance lands. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Over the weekend, 884 pounds (401 kilograms) of hydrazine monopropellant were loaded into the descent stage's four fuel tanks. As the aeroshell containing the descent stage and rover enter the Martian atmosphere on Feb. 18, 2021, the propellant will be pressure-fed through 120 feet (37 meters) of stainless steel and titanium tubing into eight Mars landing engines. The engines' job: to slow the spacecraft, which will be traveling at about 180 mph (80 meters per second) when it's 7,200 feet (2,200 meters) in altitude, to 1.7 mph (0.75 meters per second) by the time it's about 66 feet (20 meters) above the surface.

Maintaining this rate of descent, the stage will then perform the sky crane maneuver: Nylon cords spool out to lower the rover 25 feet (7.6 meters) below the descent stage; When the spacecraft senses touchdown at Jezero Crater, the connecting cords are severed and the descent stage flies off.

Animation of descent stage
NASA's Mars 2020 mission will have an autopilot that helps guide it to safer landings on the Red Planet.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Larger view

"The last hundred days before any Mars launch is chock-full of significant milestones," said David Gruel, the Mars 2020 assembly, test and launch operations manager at JPL. "Fueling the descent stage is a big step. While we will continue to test and evaluate its performance as we move forward with launch preparations, it is now ready to fulfill its mission of placing Perseverance on the surface on Mars."

The Helicopter

After the descent stage fueling, the system that will deliver the Mars Helicopter to the surface of the Red Planet was integrated with Perseverance. The helicopter, which weighs 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) and features propellers 4 feet (1.2 meters) in diameter, is cocooned within the delivery system. In one of the first steps in the day-long process on April 6, technicians and engineers made 34 electrical connections between the rover, the helicopter and its delivery system on the rover's belly. After confirming data and commands could be sent and received, they attached the delivery system to the rover.

Finally, the team confirmed the helicopter could receive an electrical charge from the rover. Before being deployed onto the surface of Jezero Crater, the Mars Helicopter will rely on the rover for power. Afterward, it will generate its own electrical power through a solar panel located above its twin counter-rotating propellers.

The helicopter will remain encapsulated on the rover's belly for the next year and will be deployed around the beginning of May - roughly two-and-a-half months after Perseverance's landing. Once the rover drives about 330 feet (100 meters) away and the helicopter undergoes an extensive systems check, it will execute a flight-test campaign for up to 30 days.

The Perseverance rover is a robotic scientist weighing 2,260 pounds (1,025 kilograms). It will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet's climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. No matter what day Perseverance launches during its July 17-Aug. 5 launch period, it will land on Mars' Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 13.04.2020

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

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

This image, taken in the Spacecraft Assembly Facility's High Bay 1 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on July 23, 2019, shows a close-up of the head of the rover's remote sensing mast. The mast head contains the SuperCam instrument. (Its lens is in the large circular opening.) In the gray boxes beneath mast head are the two Mastcam-Z imagers. On the exterior sides of those imagers are the rover's two navigation cameras.

Quelle: NASA 

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Update: 17.04.2020

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Mars 2020 remains on track for July launch

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WASHINGTON — NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission, one of the agency’s highest priorities during the coronavirus pandemic, remains on schedule for a launch in mid-July, officials said April 15.

The $2.4 billion mission, which will search for evidence of past life on Mars and cache samples for return to Earth by future missions using a rover named Perseverance, is a top priority because of its narrow launch window. The spacecraft must launch between July 17 and Aug. 5 in order to achieve its landing on Mars in February 2021. If Mars 2020 does not launch by Aug. 5, it will have to wait until the next launch window opens more than two years later.

That immovable deadline has meant NASA has gone to great lengths to keep mission preparations going when many other agency activities have slowed or stopped because of the pandemic. That effort has, so far, paid off.

“We’ve made every effort to try and put the health and safety of the individuals first, and yet still try to keep things on schedule,” Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s planetary science division, said during a virtual meeting of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) April 15. “Right now the rover is at the Kennedy Space Center and is on schedule.”

Glaze described Mars 2020 as one of the two top priorities in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, alongside the James Webb Space Telescope. However, JWST work slowed down in late March after the departure of many NASA personnel assigned to the Northrop Grumman facility where the spacecraft is going through final testing, and project officials said at the end of March that full-scale work won’t resume until the full NASA and industry teams can return.

The rover arrived at KSC in February for final launch preparations. In a later presentation at the MEPAG meeting, Jim Watzin, director of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, said about 80 people are working on the Mars 2020 spacecraft at KSC, with another 80 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrapping up work on the last set of hardware for the mission. The JPL personnel, he added, are “rapidly transitioning” to telework at the hardware is completed.

The personnel working at KSC have kept launch preparations on track. “We are green across the board in all aspects of the mission,” including schedule, Watzin said. Recent work has included installing the Mars Helicopter, a small helicopter that will be deployed from the rover after landing, as well as fueling the spacecraft’s descent stage.

“The team is working and has been able to maintain schedule,” he said. “We’ve been doing everything that we can to try to protect and support that team at the Cape.” One example of those efforts involves using additional office space at KSC so that personnel, when not working on the spacecraft in the clean room, can maintain adequate physical distancing.

At a NASA science town hall meeting in March 20, Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, said that the agency was considering using NASA aircraft to transport hardware and personnel to KSC if the use of commercial aviation was no longer considered safe, a proposal he dubbed “Perseverance Airlines.” Watzin confirmed at the meeting that NASA had adopted that proposal.

“We’ve been able to secure the use of NASA research aircraft to shuttle the personnel back and forth between the Cape and California, so we’ve been able to keep them away from public places and public airlines, which I think has contributed mightily not only to morale but also to their safety and exposure to COVID-19,” he said.

Besides being a top priority for NASA’s science program, Mars 2020 has emerged as a major priority for the agency overall. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has on several occasions identified it and the upcoming crewed test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft as the two key programs for the agency in the next few months.

“What we are going to do this summer will absolutely stun the world,” Bridenstine said in an April 2 video thanking NASA employees for their continued work during the pandemic. “We’re going to launch American astronauts on American rockets for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttles back in 2011, then we’re going to turn around and launch Mars Perseverance.”

Bridenstine reiterated the importance of Mars 2020 in an interview published April 15 by The Planetary Society, a space advocacy group, saying commercial crew and Mars 2020 were “the two big mission-essential functions that we have as an agency right now.”

Bridenstine also acknowledged that Mars 2020 was a priority because of the cost NASA would incur if the mission doesn’t launch this summer. “If we miss that launch window, it will cost us upwards of $500 million over the course of two years, if not wreck the mission altogether, which we do not want to have happen,” he said.

Quelle: SN

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Update: 22.04.2020

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NASA's Perseverance rover is moved during a test of its mass properties
 
 
This image of the Perseverance Mars rover was taken during a test of the vehicle's mass properties
 
 
NASA's Perseverance rover can be seen attached to a spin table during a test
Another view of NASA's Perseverance rover attached to a spin table during a test of its mass properties at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The image was taken on April 7, 2020. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The mission team performed a crucial weight-balancing test on the rover in preparation for this summer's history-making launch to the Red Planet.

With 13 weeks to go before the launch period of NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover opens, final preparations of the spacecraft continue at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On April 8, the assembly, test and launch operations team completed a crucial mass properties test of the rover.

Precision mass properties measurements are essential to a safe landing on Mars because they help ensure that the spacecraft travels accurately throughout its trip to the Red Planet - from launch through its entry, descent and landing.

On April 6, the meticulous three-day process began with Perseverance being lifted onto the rover turnover fixture. The team then slowly rotated the rover around its x-axis - an imaginary line that extends through the rover from its tail to its front - to determine its center of gravity (the point at which weight is evenly dispersed on all sides) relative to that axis.

NASA's next rover is rotated on special test fixture in preparation for its upcoming summertime launch to Mars.

The team then moved the rover to a spin table. To minimize friction that could affect the accuracy of the results, the table's surface sits on a spherical air bearing that essentially levitates on a thin layer of nitrogen gas. To determine center of gravity relative to the rover's z-axis (which extends from the bottom of the rover through the top) and y-axis (from the rover's left to right side), the team slowly rotated the vehicle back and forth, calculating the imbalance in its mass distribution.

Just as an auto mechanic places small weights on a car tire's rim to bring it into balance, the Perseverance team analyzed the data and then added 13.8 pounds (6.27 kilograms) to the rover's chassis. Now the rover's center of gravity is within 0.001 inch (0.025 millimeters) of the exact spot mission designers intended.

The Perseverance rover is a robotic scientist weighing about 2,260 pounds (1,025 kilograms). It will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet's climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. No matter what day Perseverance launches during its July 17-Aug. 5 launch period, it will land on Mars' Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 1.05.2020

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NASA takes high-school student’s suggestion and gives Mars Helicopter a new name: Ingenuity

 

Picking up on a suggestion from an Alabama high-school junior, NASA has given an ingenious name to the first helicopter due to take flight on Mars.

  • The new name, Ingenuity, was submitted by Vaneeza Rupani of Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Ala., for NASA’s “Name the Rover” essay contest.  NASA went with a different name for the 2020 Mars rover — Perseverance — but held onto Rupani’s suggestion for the rotor-equipped drone that will be deployed from the rover.
  • In her essay, Rupani explained that “ingenuity is what allows people to accomplish amazing things, and it allows us to expand our horizons to the edges of the universe.” In a news release, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the name “encapsulates the values that our helicopter tech demo will showcase for everyone when it takes off next year as the first aircraft on another planet’s surface.”
  • The Perseverance mission is due for launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July or August, with the landing on Mars set for next February. After touchdown, the 4-pound, solar-powered Ingenuity helicopter is to be deployed from Perseverance’s belly for a series of brief flights during a monthlong test window.

Quelle: GeekWire

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Update: 4.05.2020

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NASA's Perseverance Rover Will Look at Mars Through These 'Eyes'

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A close-up of the head of Perseverance Rover's remote sensing mast. The mast head contains the SuperCam instrument (its lens is in the large circular opening). In the gray boxes beneath mast head are the two Mastcam-Z imagers. On the exterior sides of those imagers are the rover's two navigation cameras. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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This image shows a 3-D printed model of Mastcam-Z, one of the science cameras on NASA's Perseverance Rover. Mastcam-Z will include a 3:1 zoom lens. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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This image presents a selection of the 23 cameras on NASA's Perseverance Rover. Many are improved versions of the cameras on the Curiosity rover, with a few new additions as well. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A pair of zoomable cameras will help scientists and rover drivers with high-resolution color images.


When it launches this summer, NASA's Perseverance rover will have the most advanced pair of "eyes" ever sent to the Red Planet's surface: Its Mastcam-Z instrument packs a next-gen zoom capability that will help the mission make 3D imagery more easily. Rover operators, who carefully plan out each driving route and each movement of a rover's robotic arm, view these stereo images through 3D goggles to see the contours of the landscape.

Located on Perseverance's "head," Mastcam-Z (the Z stands for "zoom") is a more advanced version of Mastcam, which NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has relied on to produce gorgeous panoramas of the Martian landscape. But it does more than that, and so will Mastcam-Z: Along with producing images that enable the public to follow the rover's daily discoveries, the cameras provide key data to help engineers navigate and scientists choose interesting rocks to study. The difference is that Curiosity's Mastcam can't zoom.

Zoom With a View

Curiosity's Mastcam was initially designed to be zoomable, but that proved difficult to achieve at the time in such a small instrument (Curiosity launched in 2011).

"The original plan was for Curiosity to have a zoom camera that could go out to an extreme wide angle like a spaghetti western view," said Jim Bell of Arizona State University, Mastcam-Z's principal investigator and Mastcam's deputy principal investigator. "It would have been an amazing panoramic perspective but proved really hard to build at the time."

Instead, Curiosity's Mastcam has one telephoto lens and one wide-angle lens. Images are taken through each and can be combined to produce stereo views. But the wide-angle lens takes in far more of the landscape in a single shot than the telescopic one; it requires up to nine telescopic images to match.

Perseverance's Mastcam-Z simplifies matters, zooming both lenses until they match and can be used to make a single 3D image. This is both easier and requires sending fewer images - and less data - to Earth.

Eyes of a Scientist

Besides providing a stereo view to help drivers choose the safest path, Mastcam-Z will help geologists choose scientific targets and better understand the landscape that rock samples are found in: Did they fall from a neighboring cliffside? Are they from an ancient stream?

Mastcam-Z will provide "superhuman vision," viewing the landscape in a variety of colors (wavelengths of light), including some that can't be detected by the human eye. Scanning the terrain in the ultraviolet or infrared, for example, could reveal metal meteorites dotting the surface or color variations indicating compositions that warrant more detailed analysis by other instruments.

Mastcam-Z isn't a spectrometer, which is to say, an instrument that uses light to do detailed scientific analysis. "But it can provide mineral clues that other instruments will follow up on," Bell said.

The camera system can also observe the Sun and sky, watching for transits of Mars' moons across the Sun and measuring how dust storms and cloud formations change over the seasons.

Mars for the People

Bell's first experience with Mars pictures was as an 11-year-old, watching images on the nightly TV news sent back by the Viking landers in 1976. He was later involved in the Mars Pathfinder mission and went on to lead the Pancam systems on the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, which inspired a new generation of Mars fanatics, including future scientists and engineers.

The vistas that Perseverance will send back from its landing site, Jezero Crater, will be just as significant for those who work on the mission and everyone who's following along.

That's why there are plans to share Mastcam-Z images and mosaics made by the amateur community on a public website. "It's important that the public have a sense of ownership," Bell said. "The Mastcam-Z images belong to all of us."

Perseverance is a robotic scientist weighing about 2,260 pounds (1,025 kilograms). The rover's astrobiology mission will search for signs of past microbial life. It will characterize the planet's climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. No matter what day Perseverance launches during its July 17-Aug. 5 launch period, it will land at Mars' Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 9.05.2020

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NASA's Perseverance Rover Spacecraft Put in Launch Configuration

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NASA's Mars Perseverance rover's descent stage was recently stacked atop the rover at Kennedy Space Center, and the two were placed in the back shell that will help protect them on their journey to Mars. In this image, taken on April 29, 2020, the underside of the rover is visible, along with the Ingenuity helicopter attached (lower center of the image). The outer ring is the base of the back shell, while the bell-shaped objects covered in red material are covers for engine nozzles on the descent stage. The wheels are covered in a protective material that will be removed before launch.

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The cone-shaped back shell for NASA's Perseverance rover mission sits on a support structure in this April 29, 2020, image from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Along with the heat shield, the back shell provides protection for the rover and descent stage during Martian atmospheric entry. Portions of the descent stage and rover, stacked one on top of the other, can be seen in the open area directly below the lower edge of back shell.

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This image of the rocket-powered descent stage sitting on top of NASA's Perseverance rover was taken in a clean room at Kennedy Space Center on April 29, 2020. The integration of the two spacecraft was the first step in stacking the mission's major components into the configuration they will be in while sitting atop of the Atlas V rocket.

Engineers working on NASA's Perseverance rover mission at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida have begun the process of placing the Mars-bound rover and other spacecraft components into the configuration they'll be in as they ride on top of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The launch period for the mission opens on July 17 - just 70 days from now.

Called "vehicle stacking," the process began on April 23 with the integration of the rover and its rocket-powered descent stage. One of the first steps in the daylong operation was to lift the descent stage onto Perseverance so that engineers could connect the two with flight-separation bolts.

When it's time for the rover to touch down on Mars, these three bolts will be released by small pyrotechnic charges, and the spacecraft will execute the sky crane maneuver: Nylon cords spool out through what are called bridle exit guides to lower the rover 25 feet (7.6 meters) below the descent stage. Once Perseverance senses it's on the surface, pyrotechnically-fired blades will sever the cords, and the descent stage flies off. The sky crane maneuver ensures Perseverance will land on the Martian surface free of any other spacecraft components, eliminating the need for a complex deployment procedure.

"Attaching the rover to the descent stage is a major milestone for the team because these are the first spacecraft components to come together for launch, and they will be the last to separate when we reach Mars," said David Gruel, the Perseverance rover assembly, test, and launch operations manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which manages rover operations. "These two assemblies will remain firmly nestled together until they are about 65 feet [20 meters] over the surface of Mars."

On April 29, the rover and descent stage were attached to the cone-shaped back shell, which contains the parachute and, along with the mission's heat shield, provides protection for the rover and descent stage during Martian atmospheric entry.

Whether they are working on final assembly of the vehicle at Kennedy Space Center, testing software and subsystems at JPL or (as the majority of the team is doing) teleworking due to coronavirus safety precautions, the Perseverance team remains on track to meet the opening of the rover's launch period. No matter what day Perseverance launches, it will land at Mars' Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

The Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life. It will also characterize the planet's climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. The Perseverance rover mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans.

Quelle: NASA

 
 
 
 

 

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