Members of the media walked the clean-room floor at NASA’s reaction propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on Dec. 27 to glimpse the agency’s Mars 2020 rover and speak with experts performing on the mission. it had been the media’s only opportunity to ascertain the rover from inside the white room before its shipment to Cape Canaveral in February.
“It was an excellent opportunity for the media not only to ascertain our work pack up, but to satisfy a number of the ladies and men who have dedicated several years of their careers ensuring this next Mars rover lives up to the legacy of these that were built here before it,” said David Gruel, the Mars 2020 assembly, test and launch operations manager at JPL.
The white room, also referred to as the Spacecraft Assembly Facility’s High Bay 1, is where all four of NASA’s Mars rovers were constructed: the microwave-oven-sized Sojourner, which landed in 1997; the golf-cart-sized Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which landed in 2004; and Curiosity rover, about the dimensions of a Mini Cooper, which has been exploring the Red Planet’s Mount Sharp region since 2012.
Scheduled to launch in July or August 2020, the Mars 2020 rover will land in Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021. There it’ll look 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 Mars.
Both to make sure that as few Earthly microbes as possible hitch a ride to Mars and to stay out particles that would interfere with the rover’s operations, High Bay 1 comes with strict cleanliness standards: Anyone entering the white room, whether a technician or a journalist, must wear a “bunny suit,” booties, a hair cover, a mask and latex gloves. Because notepads and writing implements could shed dust and other particles, specially-approved paper and pens were provided to visiting media members for the asking.
Read More: www.nasa.gov