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Mars 2020 Spacecraft Has All the Air Sucked from Around It, Survives

After showing last week the nearly complete spacecraft assigned for the 2020 Mars mission, the American space agency announced this week that the machine completed acoustic and thermal vacuum (TVAC) testing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Mars 2020 spacecraft 1 photo
TVAC tests are being conducted to see how the assembled machine will support vibrations and the effects of vacuum.

The acoustic component requires the spacecraft to be subjected to high-level sound, so it begins to vibrate. Engineers are using this method to see whether everything is firmly attached in place and will not come off during the high stresses of launch.

After that is completed, the sealed room where the spacecraft sits is vacuumed. Once the air is out, one side of the machine is chilled and the other heated to simulate the conditions in space.

NASA says it conducted both parts of the TVAC tests in April, and since everything checked out, the next step is the actual launch.

"This is the most comprehensive stress test you can put a spacecraft through here on Earth," said David Gruel, Mars 2020 manager.

"We flew in our simulated space environment for a week and a day, checking and rechecking the performance of every onboard system and subsystem. And everything looked great - which is a good thing, because next time this spacecraft stack hits a vacuum, it will be on its way to Mars for real."

The Mars 2020 mission will take off on top of an Atlas V rocket, carrying with it the Mars 2020 rover. From orbit, the spacecraft will see the mission through to its destination, the Jezero Crater on the western edge of Isidis Planitia.

Next year’s launch is the most important is space exploration in years, as for the first time human will purposefully look for signs of ancient life and make the first minor attempts of terraforming the neighboring planet.

press release
 
 
 
 
 

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