The new Mars Rover finally has a set of legs to stand on.
Corinne ReichertSenior Writer
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
I've been covering technology and mobile for 12 years, first as a telecommunications reporter and assistant editor at ZDNet in Australia, then as CNET's West Coast head of breaking news, and now in the Thought Leadership team.
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.
NASA's Mars 2020 Rover will be launched in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and is set to land on Mars in February 2021.