Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) was chosen by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to supply hardware and artifacts for the Mars 2020 mission. The main goal of this contract was to make the SNC supply the material for the robotic science that is going to investigate Mars’ habitability and natural resources.
This mission will help to determine the conditions of the planet in order to prepare future human expeditions. The company, known for its technology focused in aerospace, aviation and electronics, has been providing material to the NASA since 1992.
Getting them everything they need, from hardware to robotic instrumentos to complex systems, the company has been responsible of mission-critical hardware for interplanetary missions. This in turn, has become quite a challenge for the corporation. It’s worth noticing however, that the company is still delivering highly reliable products. Actually, the SNC was awarded as one of the top ten innovative companies in space projects.
Among the resources that are going to be provided by SNC, there’re the actuators for robotic arms and sample catching system. Also included, there’s the descent brake, and other manufactured products to built the rover that will land in Mars. This technology will enable scientists in NASA to identify and collect rock and soil samples in the surface of the red planet. The intention is to analyze these samples in order to stored them and bring them to Earth.
— Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) May 2, 2016
SNC actually built the rover that landed on Mars back in the 2012 mission, it was called ‘Curiosity’. This time, the SNC promised to make a better, faster and more precise rover. Sierra Nevada used a tethered system, a system that involves using long cables used for propulsion, stabilization and altitude control. Notably, momentum exchange instruments are included as well. This is a very specific type of spacecraft propulsion that is less expensive than traditional rocket engines.
All set up for Mars 2020
— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) April 27, 2016
The mission will consist specifically of a rover that will land in Mars’s surface to investigate geological processes and history. This will reveal that habitability of the planet and the potential for the preservation of its bio-signature and geological materials. It is already known that Mars held water once in the past, a fact that makes researchers believe that the planet was suitable for life in the past. However, will be suitable for life once again?
Source: Space Flight Insider