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Topic: NASA’s Launch Services Program

NASA’s Mars Helicopter will hitch a ride to Mars on belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will travel with the Perseverance rover through 314 million miles (505 million kilometers) of interplanetary space to get to Mars. But for the team working on the first experimental flight test on another planet, engineering the final 5 inches (13 centimeters) of the journey has been among the most challenging of all.

To safely navigate those 5 inches – the distance Ingenuity will travel from where it’s stowed on the rover to the surface of Mars – they came up with the ingenious Mars Helicopter Delivery System.

The Mars Helicopter, visible in lower center of the image, was attached to the belly of NASA's Perseverance rover at Kennedy Space Center on April 6, 2020. The helicopter will be deployed onto the Martian surface about two-and-a-half months after Perseverance lands. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Mars Helicopter, visible in lower center of the image, was attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover at Kennedy Space Center on April 6, 2020. The helicopter will be deployed onto the Martian surface about two-and-a-half months after Perseverance lands. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover on track for Summer Launch

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationFlorida – Testing on NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover at Kennedy Space Center closed out April on an extremely high note.

The latest activities at the Florida spaceport included attaching the aeroshell backshell on April 29th and attaching the rover to its rocket-powered descent stage on April 23rd inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. The rover and descent stage were the first spacecraft components to come together for launch — and they will be the last to separate when the spacecraft reaches Mars on February 18th, 2021.

Perseverance remains on track for its targeted launch period, which opens in six weeks. Liftoff, aboard a ULA Atlas V 541 rocket, will be from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (NASA/JPL)

Perseverance remains on track for its targeted launch period, which opens in six weeks. Liftoff, aboard a ULA Atlas V 541 rocket, will be from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (NASA/JPL)

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NASA’s Mars Helicopter receives new name, Ingenuity

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Destined to become the first aircraft to attempt powered flight on another planet, NASA’s Mars Helicopter officially has received a new name: Ingenuity.

Vaneeza Rupani, a junior at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama, came up with the name and the motivation behind it during NASA’s “Name the Rover” essay contest.

“The ingenuity and brilliance of people working hard to overcome the challenges of interplanetary travel are what allow us all to experience the wonders of space exploration,” Rupani wrote in her contest submission. “Ingenuity is what allows people to accomplish amazing things, and it allows us to expand our horizons to the edges of the universe.” 

Vaneeza Rupani (inset), a junior at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama, came up with the name Ingenuity for NASA's Mars Helicopter (an artist's impression of which is seen here) and the motivation behind it during NASA's "Name the Rover" essay contest. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/NIA/Rupani Family)

Vaneeza Rupani (inset), a junior at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama, came up with the name Ingenuity for NASA’s Mars Helicopter (an artist’s impression of which is seen here) and the motivation behind it during NASA’s “Name the Rover” essay contest. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/NIA/Rupani Family)

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Rocket Lab gets NASA Contract to Launch CubeSat to Moon from Virginia

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has selected Rocket Lab of Huntington Beach, California, to provide launch services for the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat.

Rocket Lab, a commercial launch provider licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, will launch the 55-pound CubeSat aboard an Electron rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. After launch, the company’s Photon platform will deliver CAPSTONE to a trans-lunar injection.

Part of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, Launch Complex 2 is Rocket Lab’s second launch site for the Electron rocket. Rocket Lab will launch NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat mission to the Moon from the Virginia launch site in early 2021. (Rocket Lab)

Part of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, Launch Complex 2 is Rocket Lab’s second launch site for the Electron rocket. Rocket Lab will launch NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat mission to the Moon from the Virginia launch site in early 2021. (Rocket Lab)

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NASA conducts first driving test of Mars 2020 Rover

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars 2020 rover has passed its first driving test. A preliminary assessment of its activities on December 17th, 2019, found that the rover checked all the necessary boxes as it rolled forward and backward and pirouetted in a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The next time the Mars 2020 rover drives, it will be rolling over Martian soil.

“Mars 2020 has earned its driver’s license,” said Rich Rieber, the lead mobility systems engineer for Mars 2020.

In a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA's Mars 2020 rover on December 17th, 2019. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover on December 17th, 2019. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 rover to search for Ancient Life

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover have discovered what may be one of the best places to look for signs of ancient life in Jezero Crater, where the rover will land on February 18th, 2021.

A paper published today in the journal Icarus identifies distinct deposits of minerals called carbonates along the inner rim of Jezero, the site of a lake more than 3.5 billion years ago. On Earth, carbonates help form structures that are hardy enough to survive in fossil form for billions of years, including seashells, coral and some stromatolites – rocks formed on this planet by ancient microbial life along ancient shorelines, where sunlight and water were plentiful.

NASA's Mars 2020 Will Hunt for Microscopic Fossils Lighter colors represent higher elevation in this image of Jezero Crater on Mars, the landing site for NASA's Mars 2020 mission. The oval indicates the landing ellipse, where the rover will be touching down on Mars. (NASA)

NASA’s Mars 2020 Will Hunt for Microscopic Fossils Lighter colors represent higher elevation in this image of Jezero Crater on Mars, the landing site for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. The oval indicates the landing ellipse, where the rover will be touching down on Mars. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 now sits on it’s Legs, Wheels

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On October 8th, 2019, at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, a photo was taken that captures the first time NASA’s Mars 2020 rover has carried its full weight on its legs and wheels.

“After years of design, analysis and testing, it is fantastic to see the rover on her wheels for the first time,” said Ben Riggs, a mechanical systems engineer working on Mars 2020 at JPL. “The whole team looks forward to seeing her in the same configuration on Mars in the not too distant future.”

This photo taken on October 8th, 2019, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, captures the first time the Mars 2020 rover carries its full weight on its legs and wheels. The rover was photographed in JPL's Simulator Building, where it underwent weeks of testing. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This photo taken on October 8th, 2019, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, captures the first time the Mars 2020 rover carries its full weight on its legs and wheels. The rover was photographed in JPL’s Simulator Building, where it underwent weeks of testing. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA engineers unwrap Mars 2020 Rover, Ready to begin Testing

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In the photo below, taken on October 4th, 2019, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, bunny-suited engineers remove the inner layer of protective antistatic foil on the Mars 2020 rover after the vehicle was relocated from JPL’s Spacecraft Assembly Facility to the Simulator Building for testing.

“The Mars 2020 rover will be collecting samples for future return to Earth, so it must meet extraordinary cleanliness measures to avoid the possibility of contaminating Martian samples with terrestrial contaminants,” said Paul Boeder, contamination control lead for Mars 2020 at JPL.

Bunny-suited engineers remove the inner layer of protective foil on NASA's Mars 2020 rover after it was moved to a different building at JPL for testing. (NASA)

Bunny-suited engineers remove the inner layer of protective foil on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover after it was moved to a different building at JPL for testing. (NASA)

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NASA attaches Mars Helicopter to Mars 2020 Rover

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA -NASA engineers have attached the Mars Helicopter to the belly of the Mars 2020 rover today in the High Bay 1 clean room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The Mars Helicopter will be the first aircraft to fly on another planet.

The twin-rotor, solar-powered helicopter was connected, along with the Mars Helicopter Delivery System, to a plate on the rover’s belly that includes a cover to shield the helicopter from debris during entry, descent and landing.

An engineer works on attaching NASA's Mars Helicopter to the belly of the Mars 2020 rover - which has been flipped over for that purpose - on Aug. 27, 2019, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An engineer works on attaching NASA’s Mars Helicopter to the belly of the Mars 2020 rover – which has been flipped over for that purpose – on Aug. 27, 2019, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Helicopter completes key tests

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A number of key tests were passed by NASA’s Mars Helicopter flight demonstration project with flying colors. In 2021, the small, autonomous helicopter will be the first vehicle in history to attempt to establish the viability of heavier-than-air vehicles flying on another planet.

“Nobody’s built a Mars Helicopter before, so we are continuously entering new territory,” said MiMi Aung, project manager for the Mars Helicopter at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Our flight model – the actual vehicle that will travel to Mars – has recently passed several important tests.”

This image of the flight model of NASA's Mars Helicopter was taken on Feb. 14, 2019, in a cleanroom at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The aluminum base plate, side posts, and crossbeam around the helicopter protect the helicopter's landing legs and the attachment points that will hold it to the belly of the Mars 2020 rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image of the flight model of NASA’s Mars Helicopter was taken on Feb. 14, 2019, in a cleanroom at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The aluminum base plate, side posts, and crossbeam around the helicopter protect the helicopter’s landing legs and the attachment points that will hold it to the belly of the Mars 2020 rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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