Tuesday March 26, 2019
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NASA ready to proceed with Mars Rover, target launch in 2020

The Mars 2020 rover will investigate a region of Mars where the ancient environment may have been favourable for microbial life, probing the Martian rocks for evidence of past life.

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Mars Rover 2020. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • The Mars 2020 rover will investigate a region of Mars where the ancient environment may have been favourable for microbial life, probing the Martian rocks for evidence of past life
  • Samples of soils and rocks would be collected throughout the mission and cache them on the surface for potential return to Earth by a future mission
  • Once a mission receives preliminary approval, it must go through four rigorous technical and programmatic reviews — known as Key Decision Points (KDP) to proceed through the phases of development prior to launch

NASA is ready to start with design and construction of Mars Rover, scheduled to launch in 2020 summer and will arrive on February 2021.

NASA Logo. mage Source: Wikimedia Commons
NASA Logo. mage Source: Wikimedia Commons

“This mission marks a significant milestone in NASA’s Journey to Mars – to determine whether life has ever existed on Mars, and to advance our goal of sending humans to the Red Planet,” said Geoffrey Yoder, Acting Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Samples of soils and rocks would be collected throughout the mission and cache them on the surface for potential return to Earth by a future mission.

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According to Yoder, “The Mars 2020 rover is the first step in a potential multi-mission campaign to return carefully selected and sealed samples of Martian rocks and soil to Earth.”

Mr. Geoffrey Yoder, Acting Associate Administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Image Source: science.nasa.gov
Mr. Geoffrey Yoder, Acting Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Image Source: science.nasa.gov

To reduce risk and provide cost savings, the 2020 rover will look much like its six-wheeled, one-tonne predecessor, Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012, but with an array of new science instruments and enhancements to explore Mars as never before, NASA said in a statement.

The Mars 2020 rover, will use the same sky crane landing system as Curiosity, but will have the ability to land in a more challenging terrain with two enhancements, making more rugged sites eligible as safe landing candidates, the US space agency pointed out.

The Mars 2020 mission has already passed an extensive review process and a major development milestone.

Payload Mars Rover 2020. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Payload Mars Rover 2020. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Once a mission receives preliminary approval, it must go through four rigorous technical and programmatic reviews — known as Key Decision Points (KDP) to proceed through the phases of development prior to launch.

Phase A involves concept and requirements definition, Phase B is preliminary design and technology development, Phase C is final design and fabrication, and Phase D is system assembly, testing, and launch. Mars 2020 has just passed its KDP-C milestone.

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“Since Mars 2020 is leveraging the design and some spare hardware from Curiosity, a significant amount of the mission’s heritage components have already been built during Phases A and B,” George Tahu, Mars 2020 Programme Executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington said.

Design of Mars Rover 2020. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Design of Mars Rover 2020. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

“With the KDP to enter Phase C completed, the project is proceeding with final design and construction of the new systems, as well as the rest of the heritage elements for the mission,” Tahu added. (IANS)

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NASA Astronauts Spacewalk to Change ISS Batteries

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 55 days, 21 hours and 39 minutes working outside the station

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NASA researchers have created the atmosphere of a super-hot planet outside our solar system, here on Earth. Pixabay

Two NASA astronauts – Nick Hague and Anne McClain – have successfully completed an over six hour spacewalk and replaced the ageing batteries on the International Space Station (ISS).

During the six hour, 39 minute spacewalk, Hague and McClain replaced nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries for the power channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays, NASA said in a statement on Friday.

They also installed adapter plates and hooked up electrical connections for three of the six new lithium-ion batteries installed on the station’s starboard truss.

These new batteries provide an improved power capacity for operations with a lighter mass and a smaller volume than the nickel-hydrogen batteries.

The batteries store power generated by the station’s solar arrays to provide power to the station when the station is not in the sunlight, as it orbits the Earth during orbital night.

In addition, the astronaut duo also removed debris from outside of the station, securing a tieback for restraints on the Solar Array Blanket Box, NASA said.

NASA, mars
NASA will also have its first all-female spacewalk at the end of the month, when astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will get to float around in space. The spacewalk will last about seven hours, according to the US space agency. Pixabay

McClain will again take a spacewalk on March 29 along with flight engineer Christina Koch to work on a second set of battery replacements on a different power channel in the same area of the ISS.

This would be the first-ever spacewalk with all-female spacewalkers, NASA said.

A third spacewalk on April 8 by Hague and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency will lay out jumper cables between the Unity module and the S0 truss, at the midpoint of the ISS’s backbone.

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This work will establish a redundant path of power to the Canadian-built robotic arm, known as Canadarm2. They will also install cables to provide for more expansive wireless communications coverage outside the orbital complex, as well as for enhanced hardwired computer network capability.

Space station crew members have until now conducted 214 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 55 days, 21 hours and 39 minutes working outside the station. (IANS)