NASA continues to progress with the Mars 2020 rover, which will start its journey to Mars next year. The rover was put on the ground recently, and the vehicle took its full weight on its wheels and its legs for the very first time. Its legs are made out of titanium, and the wheels are made out of aluminum. It comes with a suspension system that has multiple pivots that allows it to drive on rocky terrains and uneven ones. It can also deal with tilts of 45 degrees in any direction, without falling.
It took them many years to design it, analyze, and then test it, so it’s quite amazing to see the rover on its wheels for the very first time. this comes from a mechanical systems engineer, Ben Riggs which works on this rover at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The whole team is looking forward to seeing the rover on Mars soon.
Besides the footage in which the rover stands on its own wheels, NASA also released a time-lapse showing engineers getting off the layer of anti-static foil that protected the rover on its move from one JPL building to another JPL building. The foil was necessary for the rover to be cleaned and with no contaminants. This rover will collect samples and then come back to Earth, so it should be very clean in order not to contaminate the Martian samples with terrestrial pollutants. To make sure that the rover is clean all the time, they need to be careful during the assembly and testing, and also while it moves between buildings for different activities.
The mission that will bring the rover to Mars will launch in July next year, and it should land on the red planet in February 2021.