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INL team tracking its work on Perseverance Mars

mmrtg perseverance rover
MMRTG Perseverance Rover
Bob Gomez (left), Jon Bradley (center) and Courtney Swassing have worked on assembling and testing the power systems for several NASA missions, including Perseverance Rover

INL team tracking Perseverance Mars

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)-An Idaho National Laboratory team is keeping a close eye on the progress of the Perseverance Mars rover scheduled to launch at 5:50 a.m. Thursday.

INL Space Nuclear Power and Isotope Technologies Division Director Steve Johnson traveled to Cape Canaveral, Florida for the launch.

INL’s part in the mission was creation of the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) that will power the craft.  The mission is aimed at finding signs of life and to collect rock and soil samples for potential return to Earth in a future mission.

NASA said the mission is also testing a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, identifying other resources, like subsurface water, improving landing techniques and characterizing weather, dust, and other environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts living and working on Mars.

The rover is expected to land on Mars in February 2021.  

Perseverance is the latest of several space missions INL has participated in.  They include the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover launched in 2011 and Pluto New Horizons launched in 2006.   INL will also work on the Dragonfly rotorcraft lander mission to Saturn’s moon Titan, which is scheduled to launch in 2026.

You can learn more about INL’s space research mission here.

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