Mars 2020 rover gets its wheels

Image: Mars 2020 rover gets its wheels
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In this image, taken on June 13, 2019, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, install the starboard legs and wheels—otherwise known as the mobility suspension—on the Mars 2020 rover. They installed the port suspension later that day.

"Now that's a Mars ," said David Gruel, the Mars 2020 assembly, test, and launch operations manager at JPL. "With the suspension on, not only does it look like a rover, but we have almost all our big-ticket items for integration in our rearview mirror—if our rover had one."

Within the next few weeks, the team expects to install the vehicle's robotic arm, the mast-mounted SuperCam instrument and the Sample Caching System, which includes 17 separate motors and will collect samples of Martian rock and soil that will be returned to Earth by a future mission.

Both of the rover's legs (the starboard leg's black tubing can be seen above the wheels) are composed of titanium tubing formed with the same process used to make high-end bicycle frames. The wheels in this picture are engineering models and will not make the trip to Mars. They will be swapped out for flight models of the wheels sometime next year.

Made of aluminum, each of the six wheels (each 20.7 inches, or 52.5 centimeters, in diameter) features 48 grousers, or cleats, machined into its surface to provide excellent traction both in soft sand and on hard rocks. 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.

When driving over uneven terrain, the suspension system—called a "rocker-bogie" system due to its multiple pivot points and struts -maintains a relatively constant weight on each and minimizes rover tilt for stability. Rover drivers avoid terrain that would cause a tilt of more than 30 degrees, but even so, the rover can withstand a 45-degree tilt in any direction without tipping over. With its , the rover can also roll over rocks and other obstacles as well as through depressions the size of its .

Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July of 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 plan 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:

Explore further

The mast is raised for NASA's Mars 2020 rover

More information: For more information about the mission, go to:
Citation: Mars 2020 rover gets its wheels (2019, June 21) retrieved 15 October 2019 from
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User comments

Jun 21, 2019
Where do the people sit? What happened to funding a manned mission?

Oh, Manned missions to Mars was just a scam so Musk and Bezos could generate good will and street credibility as space guys in order to play the front men to launch Starlink: the cross between the Matrix and Skynet that will blot out our night sky with tens of thousands of surveillance satellites.

Here's my favorite line in the article:

"and will collect samples of Martian rock and soil that will be returned to Earth by a future mission."

Returned to Earth by a FUTURE MISSION. Lol.

Jun 21, 2019
Any chance of wiper blades for the solar arrays? Assuming this rover will use them.

Jun 22, 2019
Tell me more about the helicopter !

Jun 22, 2019
Men in Dust Masks

For on this regolith that is Mars
Just like this Moonchine regolith is fine and sticky
This Martian regolith is fine and sticky
Anything that is prone to electrostatics
For looking at this Martian buggy
There's are nooks and crannies galore
Where this Martian dust will make its home
Bugging up this buggy
For you feel sorry
For these men in dust masks
As they assemble this dust trap
These men in dust masks are for to trap these microscopic nano particles
Not the material that will bung this buggy
For as these men in masks
Painfully assemble this dust buggy
They appear to be a lot of standing around
When we travel to mars and back in these millions
These men in masks
Will have no time for this standing around
Their line leader
Will send them packing
To the labour exchange
For this painfully slow production line

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