Constructing an exquisitely complex vehicle like the Mars 2020 rover takes serious teamwork. On June 13, 2019, more than a dozen “bunny suit”-clad engineers rolled past another milestone in the clean room of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, when they integrated the rover’s legs and wheels.
The Mars 2020 team could pass for a pit crew in this video clip, which has been sped up by 300% and focuses on the major activities that took place the day the wheels were installed.
Adding to the complexity of the engineering team’s integration effort was the “rocker-bogie” suspension system, which keeps the rover body balanced, enabling it to “rock” up or down, depending on the various positions of the six wheels.
Measuring 20.7 inches (52.5 centimeters) in diameter and machined with traction-providing cleats, or grousers, the wheels seen here are engineering models that will be replaced with flight models next year. Every wheel has its own motor. The two front and two rear wheels also have individual steering motors that enable the vehicle to turn a full 360 degrees in place.
Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July 2020. It will land at Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.
Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration plans will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028. We will use what we learn on the Moon to prepare to send astronauts to Mars.
JPL is building and will manage operations of the Mars 2020 rover for the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.
If you want to send your name to Mars with NASA’s 2020 mission, you can do so until Sept. 30, 2019. Add your name to the list and obtain a souvenir boarding pass to Mars here: https://go.nasa.gov/Mars2020Pass
For more information about the mission, go to https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/