In early March, the Mars 2020 rover officially named Perseverance after inviting students from across the country to name it. The rover is scheduled to launch in July and is currently undergoing final development and testing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On March 30, the rover received its specially tailored memory alloy “Flying Wheel”. As early as last October, the rover’s six wheels were announced, but those six wheels were nothing more than “flying spare parts” to make the trip to Mars.
The wheels, made of flight-grade aluminum memory alloy and equipped with titanium spokes, are a re-designed version of the wheels on NASA’s Curiosity rover. Designed primarily for off-road performance, each wheel is larger in diameter, narrower and features a new tread. The 48 slowly curved patterned treads on the Persistence are more powerful than Curiosity’s 24 Chevron-patterned treads.
Perseverance’s new tires have been extensively tested at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which builds the rover and manages operations, and the results show that these patterned treads are better able to withstand the pressure of sharp rocks, and that gripand is as good or even better as Curiosity when driving in the sand.
In addition, the Parachute/Air Brake for the rear shell was installed on 26 March. The new rover weighs 2,260 pounds (1,025 kilograms) and is the heaviest payload in Mars exploration history. The task of the installed parachute is to slow the payload from Mach 1.7 to about 200 mph (320 kph) when the rover lands on February 18 next year.