NASA Mars 2020 Rover gets new wheels


NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover finally has a set of wheels and legs. NASA engineers this week installed the starboard legs and wheels and a new sport suspension system for the 2020 Mars Rover in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena here. NASA had been monitoring previous Mars Rover Curiosity’s wheel damage for years, as dents became holes and then cracks in the raised treads. In Jan. this year, NASA posted photos of the wheel damage before the heartbreaking death of Curiosity in February. For the 2020 model, both legs are made of titanium tubing like that used on bicycles. The current six wheels installed on the rover are for testing purposes only and will be replaced in 2020. The wheels all have their own motor, and the front two and rear two wheels additionally have steering motors. That way, the rover can turn 360 degrees while standing in one place. The rocker-bogie suspension system then allows the rover to drive over rocks and obstacles, and handle 45-degree tilts without falling over. With the suspension on, not only does it look like a rover, but we have almost all our big-ticket items for integration in our rearview mirror — if our rover had one, David Gruel, the Mars 2020 assembly, test and launch operations manager at JPL, said. Now that’s a Mars rover. NASA is next expecting to install the rover’s robotic arm, mast-mounted SuperCam and Sample Caching instrument. The cashing instrument has 17 separate motors that will work on collecting rock and soil samples.— VoM

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