NASA’s persistence has moved the Mars Rover’s twin to their new home

Techies are moving the engineering version of the Perseverance Mars Rover, part of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, to their new home in Mars Yard. Attribution: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Do you know? NASANext Tuesday Does the rover have an almost identical brother on earth for testing? Even better, it’s going to roll for the first time through a Martian landscape.

As NASA’s Mars rover persistence returns to the Red Planet through space, the twins of the six wheels are ready to roll on Earth here.

Equipped with wheels, cameras, and powerful self-propelled computers, a full-engineered version of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover has been moved to the garage home of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. This rover model passed its first driving test in a relatively tame warehouselike assembly room JPL Engineers expect it to be released to Mars Yard next week on September 1, 2020, where an area of ​​red dirt filled with rocks and other obstacles mimics the surface of the Red Planet.


NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover’s complete engineering model now lives in a garage facing Mars Yard at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Attribution: NASA / JPL-Caltech

“The mobility team of perseverance can’t wait for our test rover to run out,” said Anise Sarifian, a mobility test bed engineer at JPL. “This is the closest test robot to mimic real mission missions – with wheels, eyes, and brains on Mars – so this rover will be especially fun to operate.”

Wait, why double ask for perseverance?

Perseverance does not fly to Mars with a mechanic. The team needs the Earth-Bound Vehicle System Test Bed (VSTB) rover to understand how the hardware and software will work before handing out commands until persistence, as much as possible after the rover lands on February 18, 2021. Tuesday. This rover model will be especially useful for completing a complete set of software tests, so the team can send patches on or off the steady Mars voyage.

NASA's persistence Mars rover double test

NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover’s Earth Engineer test drive for the first time in a warehouse slice assembly room at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Attribution: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Just as perseverance has a fitting name – something that captures the rover’s hard work to gain on its journey to Mars amid epidemics – its twins also have a name: Optimism. Optimism M is an acronym for Operation Perseverance Twin, a combination of mechanisms and equipment sent to Mars, and is an acknowledgment of the team’s mantra of planning and assembling for two years.

“Optimism is not allowed” is the motto of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Test Bed Team, said Matt Stumbo, VSTB Rover’s lead on the Test Bed team. “So we named the test rover Optimis to remind us of the work we need to do to fully test the system. Our job is not only to find problems Hope Activities will work. When we work through problems with optimism, we gain confidence in the abilities of perseverance and confidence in our ability to work on Mars. ”

Almost identical

The Optimis is almost identical in stability: it is the same size, has the same mobility system and top driving speed (0.094 mph, or 0.15 km / h), and the same distinctive “head” features known as the remote sensing mast. After the second phase of the building at the beginning of the new year, there will be a permanent supply of scientific equipment, cameras, computers and “brains”, as well as a unique system for collecting rock and soil samples.

Since OPTIMISM resides in JPL, it also presents some physical differences. For one thing, when persistence is powered by a multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator (a type of nuclear battery with reliable space missions since the 1960s), Optimis presents an umbrella that can be plugged in for electricity. That string also provides an Ethernet connection, allowing the mission team to send and receive commands from OPTIMISM to engineering data without having to install radios that use persistence for communication. While perseverance comes with a heating system to keep warm in the cold climate of Mars, Optimism relies on a cooling system to operate in hot Southern California summers.

NASA's persistence Mars rover double motion

Techies are moving the engineering version of the Perseverance Mars Rover, part of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, to their new home in Mars Yard. Attribution: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Welcome to the family

Optimis is not the only VSTB rover in the JPL. NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, which has been exploring the Red Planet since its launch in 2012, has a twin named MAGGIE (Mars Automated Giant Gizmo for Integrated Engineering). Maggie helps the Curiosity team, especially with strategies for challenging terrain and rock clearing.

Optimus and Maggie will live in Mars Yard for years, providing JPL engineers with two car garages for the first time.

“Running missions require highly trusted duplicates of their systems for testing,” Stumbo said. “The Curiosity Mission learned lessons from Maggie that no other way can learn. Now that we have optimism, we are set on a persistent mission to figure out what it takes to succeed on Mars. ”

Perseverance Rover’s astronomical mission searches for traces of ancient microorganisms. It will describe the planet’s climate and geography, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and the first planetary mission to collect rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) from Mars. Subsequent missions under consideration by NASA in collaboration with the European Space Agency will send space probes from Mars to collect cached samples from the surface and send them back to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 mission is part of a larger program to include missions to the moon in preparation for the human exploration of the Red Planet. NASA, which is expected to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024, will confirm the existence of humans on and around the moon by 2028 through NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program.

JPL, which manages Caltech for NASA in Pasadena, California, builds and manages the operations of Perseverance and Curiosity Rovers.

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