Technology – NASA’s Mars Exploration Program

Technology development makes missions possible. Each Mars mission is part of a continuing chain of innovation: each relies on past missions for new technologies and contributes its own innovations to future missions. This chain allows NASA to continue to push the boundaries of what is currently possible, while relying on proven technologies as well.

Technologies of Broad Benefit

  • NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft sealed inside its payload fairing, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket rides smoke and flames as it rises from the launch pad.

    Propulsion

    for providing the energy to get to Mars and conduct long-term studies

    for providing the energy to get to Mars and conduct long-term studies less

  • The electricity needed to operate NASA's Mars 2020 rover is provided by a power system called a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, or MMRTG.

    Power

    for providing more efficient and increased electricity to the spacecraft and its subsystems

    for providing more efficient and increased electricity to the spacecraft and its subsystems less

  • Late night in the desert: Goldstone's 230-foot (70-meter) antenna tracks spacecraft day and night. This photograph was taken on Jan. 11, 2012.

    Telecommunications

    for sending commands and receiving data faster and in greater amounts

    for sending commands and receiving data faster and in greater amounts less

  • In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, technicians remove one of the circuit boards on the Mars Exploration Rover 2 (MER-2).

    Avionics

    electronics for operating the spacecraft and its subsystems

    electronics for operating the spacecraft and its subsystems less

  • Mission Scientist Examines Mars Images on Her Computer

    Software Engineering

    for providing the computing and commands necessary to operate the spacecraft and its subsystems

    for providing the computing and commands necessary to operate the spacecraft and its subsystems less

In-situ Exploration and Sample Return

  • NASA Mars 2020 Rover Separation Test

    Entry, Descent, and Landing

    for ensuring precise and safe landings

    for ensuring precise and safe landings less

  • Test of Lander Vision System for Mars 2020

    Autonomous Planetary Mobility

    for enabling rovers, airplanes, and balloons to make decisions and avoid hazards on their own

    for enabling rovers, airplanes, and balloons to make decisions and avoid hazards on their own less

  • RIMFAX Antenna Prototype

    Technologies for Severe Environments

    for making systems robust enough to handle extreme conditions in space and on Mars

    for making systems robust enough to handle extreme conditions in space and on Mars less

  • Mars 2020 CacheCam Sample Tube

    Sample Return Technologies

    for collecting and returning rock, soil, and atmospheric samples back to Earth for further laboratory analysis

    for collecting and returning rock, soil, and atmospheric samples back to Earth for further laboratory analysis less

  • Spacecraft Coming out of Protective Storage

    Planetary Protection Technologies

    for cleaning and sterilizing spacecraft and handling soil, rock, and atmospheric samples

    for cleaning and sterilizing spacecraft and handling soil, rock, and atmospheric samples less

Science Instruments

  • This animation depicts the MarCO CubeSats relaying data from NASA's InSight lander as it enters the Martian atmosphere.

    Remote Science Instrumentation

    for collecting Mars data from orbit

    for collecting Mars data from orbit less

  • This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows a sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill from the

    In-Situ Instrumentation

    for collecting Mars data from the surface

    for collecting Mars data from the surface less

Learn more about the Mars 2020's new landing technologyNew instrument aboard Mars 2020 to investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide. More aboutMOXIE ›

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