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Mars 2020 rover closer to mobility

Technicians at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory work to install the Rover Motor Controller Assembly into the Mars 2020 spacecraft. Photo Credit : NASA

Technicians at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory work to install the Rover Motor Controller Assembly into the Mars 2020 rover. Photo Credit: NASA

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is continuing to take shape. Engineers recently installed a controller assembly to be used to properly move and steer spacecraft.

Known as the Rover Motor Controller Assembly, the system is designed to operate all of the mechanical systems that will be used not only for moving the rover around on the Martian surface, but also control the motors used in the vehicle’s robotic arms, mast, drill and sample-handling functions.

On April 29, 2019, the new system was installed into the rover, completing yet another step in the assembly process of the complex robot. The new Martian explorer is coming together at the Jet propulsion Laboratory’s High Bay 1 located in Pasadena, California. During its time in the 25-foot-wide, 85-foot-tall (8-meter-by-26-meter) facility, the spacecraft was arranged as it will be when it traverses the void between Earth and the Red Planet.

Although based of the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity, the robot will sport an entirely new set of scientific instruments. 

Set to launch between July 17 and Aug. 5, 2020, the Mars 2020 rover is expected to take about six months to reach the Red Planet with a touchdown in Jezero Crater scheduled to occur on Feb. 18, 2021. It is being designed to spend a minimum of one Martian year, or 687 Earth days, exploring our nearest planetary neighbor.

The U.S. space agency has selected United Launch Alliance’s venerable Atlas V (in the rocket’s 541 configuration) to begin the initial part of the rover’s journey. When launched, it will take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida.

Artist's depiction of Mars 2020 rover. Image Credit: NASA

Artist’s depiction of Mars 2020 rover. Image Credit: NASA

 

 

 

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Lloyd Campbell’s first interest in space began when he was a very young boy in the 1960s with NASA’s Gemini and Apollo programs. That passion continued in the early 1970s with our continued exploration of our Moon, and was renewed by the Shuttle Program. Having attended the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on its final two missions, STS-131, and STS-133, he began to do more social networking on space and that developed into writing more in-depth articles. Since then he’s attended the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, the agency’s new crew-rated Orion spacecraft on Exploration Flight Test 1, and multiple other uncrewed launches. In addition to writing, Lloyd has also been doing more photography of launches and aviation. He enjoys all aspects of space exploration, both human, and robotic, but his primary passions lie with human exploration and the vehicles, rockets, and other technologies that allow humanity to explore space.

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