NASA’s Mars 2020 is just one step closer to being space-ready, complete with a new arm and the ability stand on its own six wheels. It’s been relocated to the Simulator Building at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for testing where engineers have removed the first, inner layer of protective, anti-static foil on the rover to prevent contamination on Mars. Next, they wiped down the last layer of foil with 70% isopropyl alcohol to prevent Earth material from contaminating the surface of the Red Planet. On October 8th, the Mars 2020 rover stood on its full weight using six legs and wheels for the first time ever. Read more for a video and additional information.
The titanium legs of the rover are the black tubes located above the spacecraft’s wheels, while the rover’s six wheels are made of aluminum and have cleats to help give them traction on the ground. The wheels that you currently see on the rover are “engineering models” used during testing, and before launch, it’ll be equipped with flight models.
The Mars 2020 rover will be collecting samples for future return to Earth, so it must meet extraordinary cleanliness measures to avoid the possibility of contaminating Martian samples with terrestrial contaminants. To ensure we maintain cleanliness at all times, we need to keep things clean not only during assembly and testing, but also during the moves between buildings for these activities,” said Paul Boeder, a contamination control lead for the Mars 2020 rover at JPL.