The Mars 2020 rover has gained its arm, with NASA fitting the SUV-sized robotic explorer with the primary tool with which it will carry out experiments on the red planet. The brand new milestone comes shortly after the rover was shod with its six wheels for the first time because the countdown to its 2020 launch nears.
The custom-milled aluminum wheels – each just shy of 21 inches in diameter – have been put in place final week, mounted on a posh collection of pivot factors and struts. They permit the Mars 2020 rover to spin in place, traverse ruts and trenches as deep as its wheels are tall, and preserve traction throughout the planet’s gentle sand and harder rocky terrain.
The reason for that travel, after all, is to do scientific experiments and gather up samples, the latter which NASA aspect to retrieve and return to Earth on a later mission. Key to that’s the first robotic arm, although the name doesn’t do the limb justice. Given its scale and articulation, it’s more similar to an elephant’s trunk.
It measures 7 ft long at complete extension and has five joints: the shoulder elevation joint, shoulder azimuth joint, elbow joint, wrist joint, and turret joint. 5 electrical motors are used to regulate it, however, rather than a hand as you may recognize it, is topped with a so-called turret.
Even, it’ll be a long wait before it possibly takes the first sample. Touchdown on the Mars – which will involve a huge parachute – won’t take place until February 18, 2021, with NASA targeting the 30-mile broad Jezero Crater. There, it’ll be set to work sifting via the secrets and techniques of what was once believed to be a water-filled lake, and which now has all kinds of clays and other deposits from elsewhere on the planet.