Meet the Mars 2020 rover launching this year
4:47

Meet the Mars 2020 rover launching this year

Science
The next chapter of martian exploration is being written right now at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Inside a massive clean room, the Mars 2020 Rover has been carefully built alongside hardware That will deliver it safely to the Martian surface. This new rover will search for signs of ancient life, test new technologies and gather rock samples which may someday become the first pieces of the Red Planet ever returned to Earth for analysis. To avoid contaminating these precious samples with Earth schmutz and body hair, anybody hoping to get close to the Mars 2020 machinery has got to get clean Really clean. [MUSIC] Before entering the clean room cameras get a thorough rub down with isopropanol alcohol while automatic brushes and sticky mats cleaned everyone's shoes. After putting on hair covers and bunny suits, we entered the clean room where air is cycled through a filtration system roughly 70 times every hour. And things like temperature and humidity are finely control. Here we find the star of the show, the 2020 Mars Rovers Act with high tech instruments to help us explore and study the Martian environment. At the very top we have the super cam instrument, which is a follow on to the cam cam instrument. It's a very high powered laser that we can focus at a rock up to 12 meters away. Then we have spectrum analyzers on there, and they can tell us what the chemical composition is of that A rock. On the end of the arm, we actually have a corer, a rock corer, that has the ability to core into a rock and remove a sample. Then when we're done collecting the sample, we will then stick it on another arm. Then that will take it inside the vehicle, and it will take some real close-up images of the sample. And if we deem it worthy of possible return to Earth, we'll stick it in basically a sample tube, it'll seal it. If we have enough interesting samples that they'll send another space craft up to collect those samples at a later date. The 2020 rover's design builds on the success of the Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars back in 2012 and is still exploring the red planet to this day. On Curiosity, we actually had some problems whith the wheels where they were a little too soft and they actually are starting to get torn up. So these wheels are a complete redesign A little heavier gauge metal. And they're designed to be able to withstand the rigors of such a heavy vehicle on Mars. The 2020 Rover will also be testing new technologies in the thin marcian atmosphere. Including a first of its kind light weight helicopter, and an experimental method for making oxygen out of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Both of which could be very useful in planning future Mars missions. Of course, all this delicate equipment needs to touch down on the Martian surface in one piece, and that's where the cruise stage and the descent stage come in. similar in design to those used with the Curiosity rover, the cruise stage will bring the rover from the launch vehicle to the Martian atmosphere, and the descent stage will bring the rover down to the Martian surface. [MUSIC] The rover actually get so underneath this descent stage and as we drop out of our back shell upon entry into the Mars atmosphere, we turn on these eight Mars landing engines and that slowly reduces our speed. And we kind of hover down closer to the surface of Mars. Around 20 meters above the surface we start our SkyTrain deployment sequence where we lower the rover from the descent stage on three nylon bridle ropes and we lower it about eight meters below the descent stage And then as an assembly, you slowly lower until we touch down the wheels of the rover onto the surface of Mars. Once the descent stage, that's here behind me, senses that the rover has landed on the surface, we cut the three nylon ropes that were used to lower it, and then the descent stage goes and flies away. And then the rovers there to begin its surface operations. The 2020 Rover won't stay in this clean room much longer. In February it heads to Florida to be launched sometime in July or August when the Earth's proximity to Mars means that less fuel is required to make the trip The new rover is set to touch down on Mars in February of 2021 at a site known as Jezero Crater, which was once home to a Martian river delta. And where scientists hope to find evidence of ancient microbial life. That's all for this week, thanks so much for watching with The Future. I'm your host Jesse Oral See you next time, what the fam.

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