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

Mars 2020 Spacecraft

Instruments designed to collect data during the descent of NASA’s Perseverance rover through the Red Planet’s atmosphere have been checked in flight. Credit: NASA

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 October 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 mission.

MEDLI2 Sensors

MEDLI2 sensors are installed on the Mars 2020 heat shield and back shell prior that will protect NASA’s Perseverance rover on its journey to the surface of Mars. Credit: Lockheed Martin

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 California.

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 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, built and manages operations of the Perseverance and Curiosity rovers.

2 Comments on "Sensors on NASA’s Mars 2020 Spacecraft Answer Long-Distance Call From Earth"

  1. For all the BS NASA has done through out the decades I’m surprised they swallow this CCP-VIRUS garbage. It’s a good way to control the masses. And this is the agency, if it weren’t for Buzz Aldren beating hell out of the idiots who think NASA is too STUPID to walk safely across a secured street at one of your facilities, let alone get to the moon…I dunno. Personally I was enthralled when Apollo 11 landed & Buzz & Neil did their exploration. Matter of fact so was all of Culver Military Academy in that summer of 1969.A & W’s food & Root Beer never tasted as good before or after. So, stop believing that garbage & the tripe spewed forth by the so called experts. It’s financially breaking our country. Besides you’re beginning to sound like the crazies who think y’all are nuts. And, finally we’re sick & tired of our Governor (Michigan) who thinks she needs to shut down the state again. You wouldn’t believe the amount of idiots who went along with our version of Hitler. Can’t get rid of her fast enough. Like soooo many idiots she has no idea Sweden exist!

    • Laughing Larry | October 26, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Reply

      The above comment by “Dan” is a perfect example of the kind of terrorist threat rising in the United States and several other Western and South American countries. These violent extremists are the price we are paying for allowing a New York landlord and international conman to seize control of our government.

      Our enemies in the world are celebrating the failure of our system to protect us from this kind of disaster. Hundreds of thousands of our citizens are dying. Before this disaster is over maybe millions will have died. Vladimir Putin is laughing at our political class and toasting to the destruction of some of our most important alliances.

      Don’t be taken in by the apparent stupidity and naivety of “Dan”. His friends in Michigan have already tried to kidnap and murder the governor of their state. His comment is filled with Russian playbook propaganda. He may in fact be a Russian agent.

      Americans need to wake up to the very real threat to our society that these people represent. These are the American Taliban. They are out own variety of domestic terrorism. They are murdering Americans now. They are planning everyday to murder the people who defend our country and prevent them from taking our government away. Wake up and smell the coffee.

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