NASA is preparing well for its next mission to Mars which is planned to land the Mars 2020 rover on the surface of the Red Planet to collect samples and study the signs of life. Recently, the team associated with the mission has been undertaking multiple tests to see if the spacecraft will be able to properly launch and land on the surface of Mars. The test also checks the craft navigation capabilities. The tests are called Systems Test 1 and these tests signify the first test drive of NASA’s new rover.
According to Heather Bottom, systems engineer for the mission, Systems Test 1 was a huge undertaking. He added that it was the first chance for the team to check the craft’s software along with other spacecraft components that will be flying to Mars. The test is to ensure that these components will operate and interact as expected. The Systems Test 1 was performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The test took place in the High Bay 1 cleanroom to avoid the intrusion of any contaminants. During the test, most of the team members were outside the room and there were only two technicians supervising the tests in person.
To make things as real as possible, the team included X-band radio transmission to handle the communication. To fed data and power to the craft, the team has used an umbilical of electrical cabling, and the launch capabilities were tested when orders for configuring the thermal, powering on the electrical components and, power, and telecom systems were transmitted. After such several test instances, the landing sequence was tested. All the tests were successful, and ultimately the mission team was able to perform four launches, two landings, deep space navigation, and several trajectory correction maneuvers. The next test for the rover will be done to see how the rover will cope with the low temperatures on Mars.