The ATLO stage development of the rover that will be used in the next NASA Mars mission has already begun.
Space reported on Tuesday that the upcoming 2020 NASA Mars mission rover has already entered the assembly, test, and launch operations (ATLO) phase of its development.
NASA technicians and engineers are currently building the newest Mars rover at the Spacecraft Assembly Facility High Bay 1 at the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“No better place in the world to assemble NASA’s next Mars rover than JPL’s High Bay 1,” John McNamee, Mars 2020 Project Manager, said.
“On the floor, you’ll see the components of our spacecraft taking shape — put together by people who are the best in the world at what they do. And on the wall behind them, you will see all the logos of the historic missions of exploration that have also been assembled in High Bay 1 in the past.”
According to NASA, the ATLO phase will include integration of electrical components and flight hardware.
At JPL, the technicians are reportedly working on the rover’s descent stage where a rocket-powered sky crane would lower the rover to the surface of Mars. The sky crane system was also used in dropping the space agency’s Curiosity rover onto the red planet’s surface back in 2012.
For the next year and a half, NASA engineers and technicians will be working on the new Mars rover. They are expected to install the avionics, power, telecommunications, thermal, and navigation systems to the machine.
The propulsion systems were already installed earlier this year. The team not only has to build the rover itself, but they would also have to work on its cruise stage, aeroshell, and descent stage.
“Parts of this mission are coming from the other side of the world, and some are coming from just ‘down the street’ in Pasadena, and some are coming from literally down the street – a couple of buildings away,” David Gruel, ATLO Manager for Mars 2020 at JPL, said in a statement.
“Right now we are working the descent stage, and by fall we expect to be working on the rover itself.”
The robot rover is scheduled to be launched in July 202 aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket.