Technicians move a full-scale engineering version of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover into its new home — a garage facing the Mars Yard at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California — on September 4, 2020.
This vehicle system test bed (VSTB) rover was built in a warehouselike assembly room not far from the Mars Yard — an area that simulates the Red Planet’s surface — and enables the mission team to test how hardware and software will perform before they transmit commands to the real rover on Mars. It also goes by the name OPTIMISM (Operational Perseverance Twin for Integration of Mechanisms and Instruments Sent to Mars).
The Perseverance rover’s astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life. It will also characterize the planet’s climate and geology, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first planetary mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
Subsequent 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, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.
Read for NASA Perseverance Mars Rover’s Earthly Twin Is Moved to New Home for more on this story including a video.