NASA has been “packing” the Willon rover for an upcoming epic trip to Mars,media CNET reported. NASA on Thursday shared an update on the “vehicle stacking” packaging process. It’s all about connecting important landing systems to actual rovers.
The rover has now been combined with a lander and a protective rear shell, two key components needed to safely lower the craft to the surface of the Red Planet. The back shell also contains a parachute, which will help the Staes to land slowly.
NASA has released a picture showing the bottom of the rover with a lander on it. The wheel sits protected by a material that will be removed before launch. In addition, the experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity has been safely crammed into the rover’s interior. Ingenuity will attempt to fly power on another planet for the first time.
NASA began the “packing” process on April 23. “Installing the rover on the descent is an important milestone for the team because these are the first spacecraft components assembled at launch, and when we reach Mars, they will be the last separate parts,” David Gruel, the rover’s assembly, testing and launch operations manager, said in a press release.
NASA’s update means the ship is still expected to launch as early as July and is scheduled to reach Mars in February 2021. The rover will look for evidence that microbial life may have been born on Mars. NASA’s elaborate “packing” efforts will ensure it reaches Mars safely.