NASA offers live view of Mars 2020 rover in making

James Marshall
June 12, 2019

At the end of last week, a webcam went live at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, capturing in real time all that goes on in the bay where the rover is being assembled.

Called Mars Helicopter, has passed several test runs to check the endurance of the equipment on Mars's harsh atmosphere and has is now in the final testing phase at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

As a technology demonstrator, the Mars Helicopter carries no science instruments. Its main motive is to confirm whether the Martian atmosphere, which has 1 percent the density of Earth's, supports powered flights controlled from Earth. Equipped only with a high-resolution camera, NASA is hoping to get some aesthetic photos of the Red Planet.

Future Mars missions could enlist second-generation helicopters to add an aerial dimension to their explorations. But before any of that happens, a test vehicle has to prove it is possible. Then, while still mated, the duo endured the sorts of vibrations they will experience during launch and in-flight operations.

The helicopter will have to withstand extremely cold temperatures, including nights with temperatures as low as minus 90 degrees Celcius. The launch period begins July 17, 2020. After the rover makes the first contact with the Martian surface, it will be the first spacecraft in history to accurately retarget its point of a touchdown during the landing sequence. Viewers can also participate in live webchats with members of JPL's social media team and the Mars 2020 team as they answer questions from the public about the mission.

The machine will purposefully look for signs of life, assess the habitability of the environment, track natural resources and hazards and, most importantly, kickstart humanity terraforming efforts by trying to generate oxygen. Once the Mars 2020 rover arrives at Mars on February 18, 2021, it will not only seek signs of ancient habitable conditions - and past microbial life - but collect rock and soil samples, storing them in sample tubes on the planet's surface. NASA's Launch Services Program, based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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