Sensors prepare to collect data as Perseverance enters Mars’ atmosphere

(12 February 2021 – NASA) Almost six and a half months and 300 million miles since launch, NASA’s Perseverance rover will land on Mars Feb. 18, 2021, to start its robotic of the Pink Planet.

However earlier than Perseverance touches down on the floor of Mars, it has to realize a profitable entry, descent, and (EDL).

Onboard the rover’s protecting aeroshell is the Mars Entry, Descent, and Touchdown Instrumentation 2 (MEDLI2), which can accumulate vital information concerning the harsh entry surroundings throughout Perseverance’s entry by the planet’s ambiance. Whereas not used as a part of the Mars 2020 controls for this Mars touchdown, the MEDLI2 information will enhance the designs of entry methods for future robotic and crewed Mars missions.

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MEDLI2 sensors, electronics, and harnessing put in on the internal floor of the Mars 2020 warmth defend whereas it’s mounted on the warmth defend turn-over fixture. The MEDLI2 harness has a circuitous routing to keep away from the wheels of the Perseverance rover. (courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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The Mars 2020 entry automobile with the MEDLI2 system put in. (courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

MEDLI2 contains three kinds of sensors – thermocouples, warmth flux sensors and stress transducers – that can measure excessive warmth and stress throughout entry. It additionally incorporates electronics and {hardware} for recording the and stress hundreds skilled throughout entry and thru the parachute deployment. In complete, 28 sensors are organized in a novel sample throughout the warmth defend and backshell of the Mars 2020 entry automobile.

The sensors will construct on what we already know concerning the distinctive heating phenomena on a warmth defend, density of the Martian ambiance, and of decrease altitude winds on the entry automobile’s flight path. MEDLI2 may even present NASA’s first ever direct warmth measurements skilled by an entry automobile’s backshell at Mars.

“Current profitable checkouts of our MEDLI2 {hardware} through the Mars 2020 cruise demonstrates that our system is performing as supposed and has survived the preliminary spherical of harsh flight environments,” stated Henry Wright, MEDLI2 undertaking supervisor at NASA’s Langley Analysis Heart in Hampton, Virginia. “We’re anticipating the profitable EDL of Mars 2020!”

MEDLI2’s function on touchdown day

Perseverance will energy on MEDLI2 about 5 hours earlier than entry to offer adequate time for the system to heat up and purchase the preliminary circumstances of the entry automobile. Through the closing five-hour coast to Mars, MEDLI2 sensor information might be supplied to Mars 2020 about each 45 minutes to watch the well being of MEDLI2 and to offer updates of the entry automobile floor temperatures. About 10 minutes earlier than the atmospheric entry, the Mars 2020 spacecraft will start amassing steady MEDLI2 information.

The info will present the rise in heating and stress because the entry automobile passes by the ambiance of Mars. MEDLI2 will hold amassing information after the height heating (most warmth defend floor temperature of about 2,300 to 2,400 levels Fahrenheit or 1,200 to 1,300 levels Celsius) and peak stress. Through the closing 100 seconds of the entry, the automobile might be within the supersonic flight part, the place the MEDLI2 stress transducers accumulate information as a part of the observations of wind pace and path in addition to automobile efficiency.

Perseverance will energy down MEDLI2 about 10 seconds after the supersonic parachute deploys. Then after one other 10 seconds, the warmth defend (which carries the MEDLI2 energy and information acquisition {hardware}) will separate from the entry automobile and fall to the floor of Mars. After the Perseverance rover and the powered descent stage separate from the backshell, the remaining MEDLI2 {hardware} within the backshell will descend to the floor with the parachute. The powered descent stage will proceed its path to Mars and land Perseverance in Jezero Crater. The MEDLI2 information, saved on the Perseverance rover, might be despatched again to Earth inside a few of touchdown.

The MEDLI2 operations crew will assist the Mars 2020 undertaking throughout Perseverance’s closing method and entry phases by assessing a subset of the MEDLI2 information as it’s returned close to actual time. This information will present the primary take a look at the general entry efficiency of the automobile.

“I’m happy with the MEDLI2 crew,” Wright stated. “It isn’t simple growing new, one-of-a-kind area {hardware}, particularly with a set supply date. The crew all the time remained targeted on making certain the MEDLI2 system will carry out as supposed, regardless of growth setbacks and challenges launched by the pandemic.”

MEDLI2 is a Recreation Altering Improvement undertaking. NASA’s Area Expertise Mission Directorate funded the know-how with assist from the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and Science Mission Directorate. MEDLI2 is managed at NASA’s Langley Analysis Heart in Hampton, Virginia, and applied in partnership with NASA’s Ames Analysis Heart in California’s Silicon Valley and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Langley led the event of the stress transducers, the info acquisition and sign conditioning electronics, the intra-instrument harnessing, and the methods engineering. Ames led the event of the thermal safety system sensors, the heating sensors, and is the lead for science (principal investigator). JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech, led integration of MEDLI2 into the Mars 2020 spacecraft system. JPL additionally constructed and manages operations of the Perseverance rover. Lockheed Martin constructed the warmth defend and backshell, and bodily built-in the sensors and electronics.

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