Behind the Spacecraft: Testing Hardware on Earth for a Journey to Mars


April 30, 2020

From launch to the journey to Mars to atmospheric entry to surviving on the Martian surface, NASA's Perseverance rover will have to endure a lot of extreme environments on its way to the Red Planet. But before this spacecraft experiences the real deal, we need to test all of these conditions on Earth first. Meet Michelle Tomey Colizzi, a NASA-JPL engineer who is working to make that happen.

Explore more: mars.nasa.gov/mars2020

TRANSCRIPT

I'm actually putting something together that's flying to Mars. My name is Michelle Tomey Colizzi and I'm helping to protect the next Mars rover. The main objective of this rover is to cache samples. They're drilling core samples and then they will drop them in specific locations on the surface of Mars in preparation for a sample return mission. So what we can see over here is the stacked spacecraft. My role on Mars 2020 is assembly, test, and launch operations, which is ATLO, where all of the delivered components of hardware come together and make the spacecraft. In the southwest corner over here we have our flight Mars 2020 rover and we have the entire mobility team installing the "rocker-bogie" mobility system. We try to test all of our hardware to the environments that we would see for launch of the vehicle, for cruise, the journey from Earth to Mars, for the entry into the Mars atmosphere, for landing, as well as the surface of Mars. Every once in a while we come up and take a quick look. With all the craziness you kind of lose sight of it a little bit. Over the years it becomes like your nonliving child so you really want to see it do well and perform the best that it can. It reminds you that, "Hey, everything that you're touching and all this hard work that you're putting in and the long hours, if it was easy everyone would be doing it." We're sending hardware that we built on Earth to another planet to go and do science

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