Sensors on Mars 2020 Spacecraft Answer Long-Distance Call From Earth

Instruments tailored to collect data during the descent of NASA’s next rover through the Red Planet’s atmosphere have been checked in flight.

On Oct. 8,
2020, with COVID-19 safety protocols in place, team members of the Mars
2020 Perseverance rover

mission waited for a reply from the Mars Entry, Descent, and Landing
Instrumentation 2 (MEDLI2) suite onboard the spacecraft, which is currently en
route to the Red Planet.

MEDLI2 is a collection
of sensors that will measure aerothermal environments and thermal protection
system material performance during the atmospheric entry phase of the Mars 2020

The sensors
successfully passed a battery of environmental tests before being installed on the Mars 2020
heat shield and backshell to ensure they could withstand launch and the harsh
conditions of space.

During the
recent MEDLI2 cruise checkout, the team at the Flight Mission Support Center at
NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, received data back from the
spacecraft for the first time since the rover launched in July.

“This is
the first time MEDLI2 has been tested since before launch,” said Henry
Wright, MEDLI2 project manager. “The test went great; we got the data we
wanted, and everything looks like we predicted it would.”

The test
ensured that sensors and electronics powered on successfully and pressure and
temperature sensors were measuring as expected.

“With this
verification that MEDLI2 survived launch and the cold of deep space, the team
is excited to support the Perseverance rover’s landing in February,”
Wright added.

MEDLI2 is a Game Changing Development project led by NASA’s Space Technology
Mission Directorate with support from the Human Exploration and Operations
Mission Directorate and Science Mission Directorate. The project is managed at
Langley and implemented in partnership with NASA’s Ames Research Center in
California’s Silicon Valley and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern

More About
the Mission

A key objective
of Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of
ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and
past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the
first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and

missions, currently under consideration by NASA in cooperation with the
European Space Agency, would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached
samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020
mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way
to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning
astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence
on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA’s Artemis
lunar exploration plans

JPL, which is
managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, built and manages operations of the
Perseverance and Curiosity rovers.

For more about

News Media Contact

Kristyn Damadeo

NASA Langley Research Center



Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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