Persevering with preparations

NASA missions continue to make progress, COVID-19 notwithstanding.

Yesterday we showed you the primary mirror on the James Webb Space Telescope as it will look in space. Today we have an updated view of the Perseverance rover, which is due to head for Mars in July or August.

In some of the last steps required prior to stacking the spacecraft components in the configuration they’ll be in atop the Atlas V rocket, the rover’s six flight wheels and parachute have been installed.

The wheels are re-engineered versions of what are on the Curiosity rover. Machined out of a block of flight-grade aluminium and equipped with titanium spokes, they are slightly larger in diameter but narrower, with skins that are almost a millimetre thicker. 

They also feature new treads, or grousers, to provide more grip and better withstand pressure from sharp rocks. In place of Curiosity’s 24 chevron-pattern treads are 48 gently curved ones. 

Perseverance is scheduled to land at Mars’ Jezero Crater on 18 February next year. It will search for signs of past microbial life, characterise the Red Planet’s climate and geology, and collect samples for future return to Earth.

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