July 4th, 2019
With its scheduled launch date simply over a yr away, work on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover continues apace. In latest weeks, the rover has acquired MastCam-Z, its legs and wheels and its main robotic arm. and now one of many “huge weapons” of its scientific suite has been added to the rover.
SuperCam is a subsequent era model of the Curiosity rover’s ChemCam instrument. Utilizing the instrument’s digital camera, laser and spectrometers, the rover can determine the chemical and mineral composition of a goal the dimensions of a pencil level at a distance of over 20 ft (6 meters).
SuperCam was collectively developed within the U.S., Spain and France. After the ultimate element was delivered from France, engineers fully integrated the instrument into the Mars 2020 rover on June 25.
“SuperCam has come a great distance from being a daring and bold concept to an precise instrument,” stated Sylvestre Maurice, the SuperCam deputy principal investigator on the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie in Toulouse, France. “Whereas it nonetheless has a protracted strategy to go, all the best way to Mars, this can be a nice day for not solely SuperCam however the superb consortium that put it collectively.”
Scientists with the Mars 2020 rover mission will use SuperCam and different science instruments to review Martian rocks and soil, searching for natural compounds which can be linked to previous life on Mars.
“SuperCam’s rock-zapping laser permits scientists to investigate the chemical composition of its targets,” stated Soren Madsen, the payload improvement supervisor at JPL. “It lets the Mars 2020 rover conduct its cutting-edge science from a distance.”
Within the subsequent few weeks, the rover’s Pattern Caching System, which incorporates 17 separate motors, can be put in. The rover will acquire samples of Martian soil and rock and retailer them in sealed tube for attainable return to Earth by a future mission.
Mars 2020 is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Station someday between July 17-August 5, 2020 atop a two-stage Atlas V 541 rocket supplied by United Launch Alliance. If all goes effectively with its journey to Mars, the rover will launch at Jerzo Crater on February 18, 2021.
Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, author and normal science fanatic who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen Ok. Garriott. As a younger Star Trek fan he participated within the letter-writing marketing campaign which resulted within the area shuttle prototype being named Enterprise.
Whereas his educational research have ranged from psychology and archaeology to biology, he has by no means misplaced his ardour for area exploration. Jim started running a blog about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004.
Jim resides within the San Francisco Bay space and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover touchdown and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.