NASA Readies Perseverance Mars Rover's Earthly Twin - Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Did you know NASA's next Mars rover has a nearly identical sibling on Earth for testing? Even better, it's about to roll for the first time through a replica Martian landscape.
Did you know NASA's next Mars rover has a nearly identical sibling on Earth for testing? Even better, it's about to roll for the first time through a replica Martian landscape. As NASA's Mars rover Perseverance hurtles through space toward the Red Planet, the six-wheeler's twin is ready to roll here on Earth. A full-scale engineering version of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover - outfitted with wheels, cameras, and powerful computers to help it drive autonomously - has just moved into its garage home at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. This rover model passed its first driving test in a relatively tame warehouselike assembly room at JPL on Sept. 1. Engineers expect to take it out next week into the Mars Yard, where a field of red dirt studded with rocks and other obstacles simulates the Red Planet's surface. A full-scale engineering model of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover now resides in a garage facing the Mars Yard at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech "Perseverance's mobility team can't wait to finally drive our test rover outside," said Anais Zarifian, the mobility test bed engineer at JPL. "This is the test robot that comes closest to simulating the actual mission operations Perseverance will experience on Mars - with wheels, eyes, and brains all together - so this rover is going to be especially fun to work with." Wait, Why Does Perseverance Need a Twin? Perseverance isn't flying to Mars with a mechanic. To avoid as many unexpected issues as possible after the rover lands on Feb. 18, 2021, the team needs this Earth-bound vehicle system test bed (VSTB) rover to gauge how hardware and software will perform before they transmit commands up to Perseverance on Mars. This rover model will be particularly useful for completing a full set of software tests so the team can send up patches while Perseverance is en route to Mars or after it has landed. Engineers test drive the Earth-bound twin of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover for the first time in a warehouselike assembly room at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech› Full image and caption And just like Perseverance has a fitting name - one that captures the hard work of getting the rover on its way to Mars amid a pandemic - its twin has a name, too: OPTIMISM. While OPTIMISM is an acronym for Operational Perseverance Twin for Integration of Mechanisms and Instruments Sent to Mars, the name is also a nod to the mantra of the team that spent two years planning and assembling it. "The Mars 2020 Perseverance test bed team's motto is 'No optimism allowed,'" said Matt Stumbo, the lead for the VSTB rover on the test bed team. "So we named the test rover OPTIMISM to remind us of the work we have to do to fully test the system. Our job is to find problems, not just hope activities will work. As we work through the issues with OPTIMISM, we gain confidence in Perseverance's capabilities and confidence in our ability to operate on Mars." Almost Identical OPTIMISM is nearly identical to Perseverance: It is the same size, has the same mobility system and top driving speed (0.094 mph, or 0.15 kph), and features the same distinctive "head," known as the remote sensing mast. After a second phase of building at the beginning of the new year, it will have the full suite of science instruments, cameras, and computer "brains" Perseverance has, plus its unique system for collecting rock and soil samples. But since OPTIMISM lives at JPL, it also features some Earthly differences. For one thing, while Perseverance gets its power from a multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator (a kind of nuclear battery that has reliably powered space missions since the 1960s), OPTIMISM features an umbilical cord that can be plugged in for electrical power. That cord also provides an ethernet connection, allowing the mission team to send commands to and receive engineering data back from OPTIMISM without installing the radios Perseverance uses for communication. And whereas Perseverance comes with a heating system to keep it warm in the frigid environment of Mars, OPTIMISM relies on a cooling system for operating in hot Southern California summers. Technicians move an engineering version of the Perseverance Mars rover into to its new home in the Mars Yard, part of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech› Full image and caption Welcome to the Family OPTIMISM isn't JPL's only VSTB rover. NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, which has been exploring the Red Planet since it landed in 2012, has a twin named MAGGIE (Mars Automated Giant Gizmo for Integrated Engineering). MAGGIE has been helping the Curiosity team particularly with strategies for driving across challenging terrain and drilling rocks. OPTIMISM and MAGGIE will live side-by-side in the Mars Yard, giving JPL engineers a two-car garage for the first time. "Missions that are operating require high-fidelity replicas of their systems for testing," Stumbo said. "The Curiosity mission has learned lessons from MAGGIE that were impossible to learn any other way. Now that we have OPTIMISM, the Perseverance mission is well equipped to learn what they need to succeed on Mars." The Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life. It will also characterize the planet's climate and geology, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first planetary mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust). Subsequent missions, currently under consideration by NASA in cooperation with the European Space Agency, would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis. The Mars 2020 mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans. JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance and Curiosity rovers. Learn more about the Mars 2020 mission at: https://www.nasa.gov/perseverance News Media Contact Jia-Rui Cook / D.C. AgleJet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.818-354-0724 / [email protected] / [email protected] Johnson / Grey HautaluomaNASA Headquarters, Washington202-358-1501 / [email protected] / [email protected] 2020-172
Join NASA for the Launch of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover - NASA Mars Exploration
No matter where you live, choose from a menu of activities to join NASA as we "Countdown to Mars" and launch the Perseverance rover to the Red Planet.
No matter where you live, choose from a menu of activities to join NASA as we "Countdown to Mars" and launch the Perseverance rover to the Red Planet. Team with NASA to send off the Perseverance rover to Mars – from the convenience of your own home. The mission launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida, this summer, and you're invited to participate remotely – with a global, collective launch countdown where you can submit your own videos, take a photo on Mars or next to the rover, dive into an interactive launch packet, and sign up to send your name to Mars on a future space mission. After a seven-month journey to the Red Planet, the rover will land in Jezero Crater, an ancient lakebed with intriguing geology. In its search for astrobiological evidence of ancient microbial life, Perseverance will gather rock and soil samples there for future return to Earth. It will also characterize the planet's climate and geology and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. In addition, Perseverance carries the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, a technology demonstration that marks the first attempt at powered, controlled flight on another planet. "During these challenging times, no matter where you are, you can participate in this launch and help send this robotic geologist on a mission to explore worlds beyond our own," said Michael Greene, the director for communications and education at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission. With local restrictions on public gatherings in place, NASA recommends watching the launch virtually. To learn how, use our launch toolkit. And here's a menu of options for sharing in the Perseverance launch: CountdownToMars You know that "5-4-3-2-1" right before a spacecraft blasts off? You can record your own version of a launch countdown video clip and tag it on social media using #CountdownToMars. Your clip may be featured on NASA social media or even on launch day. Here's how to participate. Send Your Name to Mars, Again! Perseverance carries three dime-size chips with 10.9 million names submitted worldwide to travel aboard the rover. The people who already signed up can get a special "Now Boarding" stamp and are ready for launch. If you missed that opportunity, you can soon sign up to send your name on a future mission to Mars. Mars Photo Booth While sharing the Mars Launch at Home virtually, take a souvenir photo with our virtual Mars Photo Booth. You can pose next to the mighty Atlas V rocket that will launch the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, strike a pose on Mars, or put yourself next to the rover in the JPL clean room where it was assembled. Just upload your favorite picture, choose a background, and download the new image. Virtual Launch Packet Get an interactive magazine-style booklet to enhance your launch-viewing experience. The flipbook includes information about the Perseverance rover launch and all the print products for the mission. You can also download it as a PDF. Spacecraft 3D Rover Experience Zoom in, rotate, and twirl around the Perseverance rover in an interactive 3D experience. Click and select different sections to learn all about the science tools and instruments that make up this mighty rover. Watch the Launch and Share Your Excitement Watch the mission briefings and other Mars 2020 programming on NASA TV, culminating with the launch on July 30. See the schedule for Perseverance programming. How to stream NASA TV. Stay connected with the mission on social media, and let people know you're following it on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #CountdownToMars. Follow and tag these accounts: Twitter: @NASA, @NASAPersevere, @NASAMars Facebook: NASA, NASAPersevere Instagram: NASA Perseverance videos will be posted to the NASA JPL YouTube channel and NASA YouTube channel. You can also sign up for the Mars newsletter to stay informed about all the ways to experience this launch. However you choose to participate in the Mars Launch at Home, we look forward to seeing you online for launch, which is targeted for July 30: The time in which the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission can launch extends to Aug. 15. Check out this page for the latest launch date and time. Doing a Mars Launch from Home may burn up some energy. Perseverance pancakes, anyone? More information about the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is on this mission website. News Media Contacts DC AgleJet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, [email protected] Grey Hautaluoma / Alana JohnsonNASA Headquarters, Washington202-358-0668 / [email protected] / [email protected] - Written by Jane Platt
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NASA Provides Update on Commercial Crew Program, Close Call Review of Boeing's Orbital Flight Test - NASA
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NASA Names Acting International Space Station Program Manager - NASA
Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, has named Joel Montalbano as acting manager of the International Space Station Program. The appointment is effective Friday, June 26, the date Kirk Shireman, who has been in t…