The Perseverance rover is now ready for its trip to Mars. said Tory Bruno, director of the United Launch Alliance (ULA), the company responsible for the launch. According to him, the Multi-Mission Thermoelectric Generator for Radiostops (MMRTG, Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator), reactor responsible for the production of electric energy for the vehicle, is already installed and working.
The #MarsPerseverance MMRTG is installed and doing well. This Red Planet dune buggy is fueled and ready to go!
– Tory Bruno (@torybruno) July 22, 2020
MMRTG has a plutnium core, which naturally decays, becoming more stable elements. When this happens it releases energy in the form of heat, which is converted into electricity for the rover. The reactor is designed to run for 14 years, and at the beginning of its operation it is capable of producing 110 Watts.
The MMRTG-based design of another rover, Curiosity. Perseverance was designed to work for at least one Martian year (2 Earth years), but it is likely to be able to extend its mission for several years, as long as there are no serious hardware failures. Curiosity was designed to last the same time, but it has been exploring the red planet for 8 Earth years.
Atlas V rocket that will take the Perseverance rover to Mars by being maneuvered to the launch pad. Photo: Nasa
NASA opted for MMRTGs in Curiosity and Perseverance, as these generators are not vulnerable to weather conditions. Another Agency rover, Oportunity, stopped operating almost 16 years after landing on Mars, after an intense sandstorm covered its solar panels and prevented the production of energy.
Perseverance is scheduled to launch on July 30 at 8:50 am (Brasilia time) on board an ULA Atlas-V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. If all goes as scheduled, the rover will reach its new home, the Jezero crater on Mars, on February 18, 2021.
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