A new NASA video shows how the agency is preparing for the Mars 2020 mission in the context of the global new crown pandemic. Among them, workers’ health is strictly monitored, and those who assemble the rover benefit from “clean rooms” and state-of-the-art personal protective equipment. The mission is still scheduled for July 20.
The coronavirus pandemic affects every business, industry, and government agency in its own unique way. NASA is no exception, but the pandemic suddenly appeared at the worst of the moments as the agency was finalising its Mars 2020 mission and preparing for the Fortitude rover’s long journey on the Red Planet.
Missing the launch window would mean delaying the mission until at least 2022, as it takes only a short period of time to launch a probe from Earth to Mars every two years or so. NASA will ensure that the 2020 Mars mission is not delayed as a top priority, and it has just released a very cool mini-documentary showing how it will complete its mission. The short video highlights some of the challenges associated with the new Mars rover mission, and although most of the staff were told to work from home, mission-critical personnel still had to perform their duties at NASA facilities.
The good news is that since the Fortitude rover was built in a dust-free room to ensure that no bacteria or other forms of microlife were attached to the rover’s hardware and accidentally contaminated the planet, the engineers who assembled the rover were equipped with the highest-end personal protective equipment. NASA is also installing a special nameplate on the Fortitude rover to honor the medical staff and their dedication to treating patients infected with COVID-19 at the expense of their lives.
The Mars 2020 mission and the Fortitude rover are scheduled to launch on July 20 and will arrive on Mars in mid-February 2021.