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JPL unveils efforts to explore Mars to NASA Administrator

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine reviews the Mars Helicopter during a Aug. 27 visit to the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Photo Credit: Ashly Cullumber / SpaceFlight Insider

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine reviews the Mars Helicopter during a Aug. 27 visit to the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. From left-to-right: The Chief Engineer for the Mars Helicopter Program Bob Balaram, the Project Manager for the Mars Helicopter Project MiMi Aung, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Photo Credit: Ashly Cullumber / SpaceFlight Insider

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine paid a visit to the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory today, Monday Aug. 27, 2018 and was provided a review of NASA’s efforts to explore the Red Planet.

Guided by JPL’s officials, the new head of the agency was given a tour of present and future Mars exploration missions. The importance of the work being done at JPL, as well as the possible discoveries that there are to be made, was noted by Bridenstine himself.

“My mission at JPL today is to talk about if there‚Äôs life on other planets,” Bridenstine said.

Part of that his visit included a stop by JPL’s in-situ instrumentation lab, where a full scale model of the Mars InSight lander, which is itself based on the Mars Phoenix lander spacecraft (which touched down on the Vastitas Borealis region of Mars on Nov. 2, 2008) resides. InSight is scheduled to touch down on the dusty Martian plains on Nov. 26 (2018).

The next part of the tour was, in some ways, a two-parter given that Bridenstine was taken through the Spacecraft Assembly Facility as well as the Space Simulator Chamber. 

NASA's Mars Helicopter that is part of the Mars 2020 Rover mission. Photo Credit: Ashly Cullumber / SpaceFlight Insider

NASA’s Mars Helicopter that is part of the Mars 2020 Rover mission. Photo Credit: Ashly Cullumber / SpaceFlight Insider

The Assembly Facility is where NASA’s 2020 Mars Rover is being prepared for its mission to the Red Planet. While the one-ton rover was impressive, the next part of the tour helped highlight one of the more innovative elements of the upcoming mission – an aircraft sent to fly the Martian skies.

A replica of a drone helicopter that is being readied to fly with the rover when it travels to Mars was on prominent display during the tour and was at the Simulator Chamber in order to test it in a “Mars-like” atmosphere.

The Mars Helicopter Team even presented Bridenstine with one of the vehicle’s blades in honor of his visit, denoting the importance of this portion of the Mars 2020 mission.

Bridenstine was nominated by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, for the role of NASA Administrator on Sept. 1, 2017. He was confirmed for the position by the U.S. Senate on April 19, 2018.

Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory gather around a model of the Mars InSight lander. Photo Credit: Ashly Cullmber / SpaceFlight Insider

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory gather around a model of the Mars InSight lander. Photo Credit: Ashly Cullmber / SpaceFlight Insider

Components designed to safely deliver the Mars 2020 Rover to the Red Planet laid out on the floor of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility. Photo Credit: Ashly Cullumber / SpaceFlight Insider

Components designed to safely deliver the Mars 2020 Rover to the Red Planet laid out on the floor of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility. Photo Credit: Ashly Cullumber / SpaceFlight Insider

 

 

 

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Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

MOHAMMAD M RAHMAN

I am excitedly waiting for the day when human will step on the Mars.The sooner the better to reach the red Mars.We should go outside from the Earth and settle other planets or satellites.The government should allot more money to NASA saving from defense and war.What we invest in space exploration soon recover our economic problem using infinite wealth from other planets,satellites and asteroid.

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