Mars has already received two rovers sent by NASA, and another one is expected to join them soon – Mars 2020 Rover. At the moment NASA is preparing the next Mars mission in California. The rover is being tested by the engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The mission will leave our planet next summer, and it will travel for seven months through space before reaching its final destination, Mars. Everything should function smoothly as NASA has already been through this before. The Mars 2020 rover isn’t that different from Curiosity.
“Stacking is an important milestone in mission development, because as good as our computer models are, we still need to put it together to show that the bolt holes line up and everything fits together. It is a great feeling for the entire project when we see the stack sitting there waiting to go for the next part of its journey, which will eventually lead to a launch pad at the Cape Canaveral in July of next year,” explained David Gruel who is the assembly, test, and launch operations manager.
Testing the Mars 2020 Rover
A surrogate rover will be used for stacking as well. The surrogate is used to make sure that things will fit the way they should. For instance, the descent stage was already placed on top of the surrogate and engineers checked the holes so that they line up perfectly.
A parachute nose cone was also used to check whether it fits or not. This element will be the one protecting the parachute when Mars 2020 will enter the atmosphere of the planet. The parachute will then be used so that Mars 2020 can land safely on the Red Planet.
“Nothing is static with this mission. Until the hold-down bolts on the Atlas rocket blow and our rover are headed to Mars in July of 2020, there is almost always something being assembled, tested or modified,” concluded Gruel.