NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena showcased its Mars 2020 Rover last week as the builders put the finishing touches on the interplanetary science lab on wheels before shipping to its launch site in Florida in February.
Scientists opened up the “clean room” to journalists on Dec. 27, provided they donned the necessary suits, masks and other equipment needed to prevent contaminating the nuclear-powered rover with undesirable Earth particles, JPL officials explained in a written statement.
“It was a great opportunity for the media not only to see our work close up, but to meet some of the women and men who have dedicated several years of their careers ensuring this next Mars rover lives up to the legacy of those that were built here before it,” according to David Gruel, the Mars 2020 assembly, test and launch operations manager at JPL.
The rover will be shipped to Cape Canaveral, Florida next month to undergo final launch preparations.
It is set to blast off in July or August, then land on Mars’ Jezero Crater in February of 2021.
“There it will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize Mars’ climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet,” according to the JPL statement.