In the summer, NASA plans to launch the Mars Fortitude rover to Mars as part of the Mars 2020 mission. The Stowe was filled with equipment to search for signs of life on Mars. One of the tools on the rover is called “Scanning the livable environment of organic matter and chemicals with Raman and brightness” or SHERLOC. The instrument will look for life-related chemicals on the surface of Mars.
The instrument is so complex that in order to keep it in good working order, a team at johnson Space Center recently created a calibration device for the rover to check the function of SHERLOC and adjust it appropriately during the mission. There are 11 items on the instrument that must be calibrated in order to function properly. The calibration devices created by the researchers will also be used in other scientific and engineering surveys.
The SHERLOC is mounted at the end of a 7-foot robotic arm connected to the rover and includes lasers, cameras and spectrometers. The instrument will search for water-changed matter and reveal evidence of the existence of microlife on Mars in the past. The calibration target device is about the size of a large mobile phone and is mounted on the front of the rover.
There are ten targets on the surface of this device, including samples of different materials. The researchers occasionally directed SHERLOC to calibrate the various materials on the target. When the instrument is working properly, scientists will know the readings of these materials. If the ratings are skewed, you can adjust them to work properly.
Scientists will be able to make up for mistakes when analyzing data later. The calibration device can also be used in other tests. Some of these targets carry spacesuit materials that may one day be used to protect astronauts exploring Mars. These scans will help calibrate the instrument and help scientists understand how advanced fabrics and materials perform on Mars.