NASA rover driver and robotics technologist Dr. Vandi Verma explains the behind-the-scenes of operating Mars spacecraft from Earth, as well as three big changes to expect with the Mars 2020 rover.
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The Space Roboticist: Dr. Vandi Verma
She loves her day-to-day responsibility for the machine. “You definitely don’t want to be the one who drove the rover off a cliff! But I find it energizing rather than stressful. You’re completely focused.” Although human spacefaring has stalled, Verma says the spirit of exploration is alive and well in space robots. “I am happy to be working in robotics, pushing the envelope on space exploration,” Verma says. “We have reached Mars, our neighboring planet. We’ve have only just begun.”
NASA Announces Landing Site for Mars 2020 Rover
"The rover mission is scheduled to launch in July 2020 as NASA’s next step in exploration of the Red Planet. It will not only seek signs of ancient habitable conditions – and past microbial life -- but the rover also will collect rock and soil samples and store them in a cache on the planet's surface. NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) are studying future mission concepts to retrieve the samples and return them to Earth, so this landing site sets the stage for the next decade of Mars exploration."
Mars Helicopter to Fly on NASA’s Next Red Planet Rover Mission
"The helicopter also contains built-in capabilities needed for operation at Mars, including solar cells to charge its lithium-ion batteries, and a heating mechanism to keep it warm through the cold Martian nights. But before the helicopter can fly at Mars it has to get there. It will do so attached to the belly pan of the Mars 2020 rover."