Things are piling up for NASA's Mars 2020 spacecraft

During the last months, the floor of the clean room in High Bay 1
at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has been covered
in parts, components and test equipment for the Mars 2020 spacecraft, programmed
for the launch to the Red Planet in July 2020. But in recent weeks, some
of these components – the landing system of rockets loaded with spacecraft and even the
substitute for the rover (baptized "surrogate-rover") – apparently

Actually, they are still
there, carefully tucked into the entry capsule, as you will be when it's time to
launching. The procedure is known as vehicle stacking and involves a
Hyper-detailed plan for what goes where and when.

"One of our main jobs is to make sure that the
all the hardware that is required to carry the mobile phone from here on Earth to
The surface of Mars fits inside the payload fairing of an Atlas V rocket, which
it gives us about 15 feet [5 meters] wide to work, "said David Gruel, badembly, test and launch.
Operations Manager (ATLO) for Mars 2020
in JPL.

The first step is to place the descent propelled by rockets.
the stage at the top of the substitute rover (the real rover is integrating and
tested in tandem with the spacecraft stack). Then, when all the holes are aligned
and everything is attached, checked and rechecked again, the back case is
lowered on them through the gantry crane.

"That crane has lifted almost all
spacecraft that has come through JPL from Mariner "
said Gruel. "To safely lift the large pieces of the Mars 2020 spacecraft,
We use a dozen technicians and engineers. "

After the back shell
is in place and everything is determined to fit properly, the team puts
in the nose cone of the parachute, which protects the parachute during the atmosphere
entry, followed by the mbadive donut-shaped cruise stage, which will boost
The spacecraft Mars 2020 on its seven-month journey to the Red Planet. So he
the vehicle's battery is on its side so that technicians and engineers have access to
The coupling points between the cruise and descent stages to make connections. the
the battery returns to its original position (cruise stage at the top) so that the
The heat shield can be raised in its position and fixed.

"Piled up
is an important milestone in the development of the mission, because as good as our
Computer models are, we still have to put them together to show that the pin
the holes are aligned and everything fits, "said Gruel. Is a
great feeling for the whole project when we see the pile sitting there
waiting for the next part of your trip, which will eventually lead to a
launching platform at Cape Canaveral in July next year. "

After three
weeks, the stacking ends on April 3 and the ship is transported to
The environmental testing facility of JPL will be subjected to acoustic tests. During this
testing the battery will be bombarded with a thunderous sound wall designed to
It imitates the sound waves generated during the launch. Then, after a check to make
Make sure that the bolts have not been loosened or that the fastening points have come loose, the
the stack is directed to the thermal vacuum chamber for a week-long test that simulates the hostile environment of the space to badess how
The ships destined to Mars and their instruments operate in flight conditions.

It is static with this mission, "said Gruel. After the acoustics and
In thermal vacuum testing, the stacked spacecraft is returned to the badembly building.
to unstack, then more tests and more work. Until the fastening bolts in the
Atlas rocket hit and our rover heads to Mars in July 2020, there are almost
Always something being badembled, tested or modified. "

The rover Mars 2020 will carry out geological evaluations of its landing site in
Mars, determine the habitability of the environment, look for signs of
old martian life, and badess natural resources and the dangers for the human future
explorers Scientists will use instruments on board the vehicle to identify and
collect samples of rock and earth, enclose them in sealed tubes and leave them in
The surface of the planet for a possible return to Earth in a future mission to Mars.

The Mars 2020 project at JPL manages
development of rover for the Directorate of Scientific Missions at the headquarters of NASA in
Washington. NASA's launch services program, based on the Kennedy space of the agency
Center in Florida, is responsible for the management of the launch.

For more information about Mars 2020.
mission, go to

For more information about NASA Mars.
missions, go to

News Media contact

DC Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
[email protected]

Alana Johnson
Headquarters of NASA, Washington, DC
[email protected]


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