On October 27, 2020, at 4:40 EDT (1:40 p.m. PDT), NASA’s Mars 2020 spacecraft, which includes the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter, reached its halfway point — 235.4 million km (146.3 million miles) — on its journey to Mars.
Source: Sci News
“On October 27, Mars 2020 was just as many miles in its metaphorical rearview mirror as it will out its metaphorical windshield,” said Dr. Julie Kangas, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“While I don’t think there will be cake, especially since most of us are working from home, it’s still a pretty neat milestone. Next stop, Jezero Crater.”
The Sun’s gravitational influence plays a significant role in shaping not just spacecraft trajectories to Mars, but also the relative movement of the two planets.
So Mars 2020’s route to the Red Planet follows a curved trajectory rather than an arrow-straight path.
“Although we’re halfway into the distance we need to travel to Mars, the rover is not halfway between the two worlds,” Dr. Kangas said.
“In straight-line distance, Earth is 42.7 million km (26.6 million miles) behind Perseverance and Mars is 28.8 million km (17.9 million miles) in front.”
The mission team continues to check out spacecraft systems big and small during interplanetary cruise.
The RIMFAX and MOXIE instruments onboard the Perseverance rover were tested and determined to be in good shape on October 15. The MEDA instrument got a thumbs up on October 19.
There was even a line item to check the condition of the X-ray tube in the PIXL instrument on October 16, which also went as planned.
“If it is part of our spacecraft and electricity runs through it, we want to confirm it is still working properly following launch,” said Dr. Keith Comeaux, deputy chief engineer for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission.
“Between these checkouts — along with charging the rover’s and Ingenuity’s batteries, uploading files and sequences for surface operations, and planning for and executing trajectory correction maneuvers — our plate is full right up to landing.”
Source: Sci News