Tuesday January 22, 2019
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NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission won’t halt due to crack in its heat shield

In a statement this week, NASA said it was working to build a replacement heat shield structure for the Mars rover.

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After lettuce, astronauts could grow beans in space in 2021. Pixabay

NASA has said that a crack that it detected in the Mars 2020 rover’s heat shield will not change the mission’s launch date.

The fracture, which occurred near the shield’s outer edge and spans the circumference of the component, was discovered on April 12, after the shield completed a week-long test at a Lockheed Martin facility near Denver.

In a statement this week, NASA said it was working to build a replacement heat shield structure for the Mars rover.

NASA has said that a crack that it detected in the Mars 2020 rover's heat shield will not change the mission's launch date.
Representational Image, Pixabay

“The situation will not affect the mission’s launch readiness date of July 17, 2020,” the statement added.

The test was designed to subject the heat shield to forces up to 20 per cent greater than those expected during entry into the Martian atmosphere.

The heat shield is part of the thermal protection system and aeroshell designed to encapsulate and protect the Mars 2020 rover and landing system from the intense heat generated during descent into the Martian atmosphere.

Also Read: Uranus Smells Like Rotten Eggs, Say Scientists 

The structure was originally tested in 2008 and was one of two heat shields manufactured in support of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, which successfully landed the Curiosity rover on Mars in August 2012.

The current heat shield will be repaired in order to support the pre-launch spacecraft testing while a new heat shield structure is readied for flight over the next year, NASA said.

The Mars 2020 rover is designed to seek signs of habitable conditions on the planet in the ancient past, and also search for signs of past microbial life. (IANS)

Next Story

Partial Shutdown of US Delays Space Missions, But NASA Not Grounded

Other active space missions includes NASA probes OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons spacecraft that continue to gather data in Earth orbit and the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and beyond, the report said

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People rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Detroit, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

The partial shutdown of the US federal government has had a serious impact on the country’s space agency NASA and development work on most future space missions has been slowed or suspended.

However, NASA has not been totally grounded by the partial government shutdown that began on December 22, after last-minute negotiations in Congress failed to end a budget standoff.

Over 95 per cent of the space agency’s employees have been furloughed. As a result, various research projects, including the Hubble Space Telescope has been put on hold, the Space.com reported on Wednesday.

Hubble suffered a mechanical problem that only furloughed NASA employees could repair.

Many workers also gathered outside the Johnson Space Center in Houston to protest the shutdown and its deleterious effects on their lives and the nation’s space programmes.

The Telescope facilities that have so far remained open during the shutdown will soon run out of money and cease operations.

This includes the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), a federally funded organization that operates the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), the Green Bank Telescope and the Very Large Array (VLA), the report noted.

The partial shutdown become the longest on record after January 12, overtaking the previous record of the 21-day impasse in 1995-96 under then President Bill Clinton.

NASA, tissue
US shutdown delays space missions but NASA not grounded: Report,

President Donald Trump and the Congress have been at loggerheads over his demand to include in the budget $5.7 billion funding for building a border wall along the Mexico border. Democratic leaders have rejected his call.

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), also called the “flying telescope” has also ceased operations since the shutdown.

The telescope, which is mounted to the fuselage of a Boeing 747 aircraft, has not flown since the shutdown began, the report said.

However, despite the shutdown some “excepted” employees remained at work, assisting astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and other space missions, the report said.

Also Read- National Clean Air Programme Should Set Higher Targets

Last week, astronauts aboard the ISS conducted a range of scientific experiments and public-outreach work. They engaged in an orbital Q&A with school kids and answered a variety of questions, from the nature of the research performed aboard the ISS to the type of training astronauts receive to whether your ears pop in space.

On January 13, a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule departed the orbiting lab for Earth, eventually splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. The robotic Dragon brought down important scientific research and hardware for examination here on terra firma.

Other active space missions includes NASA probes OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons spacecraft that continue to gather data in Earth orbit and the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and beyond, the report said.  (IANS)