Aerospace company Space Systems Loral (SSL) announced on Feb. 25 that it has received a contract from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to build robotic arms for Mars 2020 rover.
The company will specifically develop robotic Sample Handling Assembly (SHA) arms to boost exploration and efficiently process and store samples of objects on the surface of Mars.
"SSL is pleased to have this opportunity to work with JPL on the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARRM)," says SSL's president John Celli. He adds that the firm is looking forward to applying its proven technologies such as its high-power satellites with electric propulsion systems. Such technology is said to aid JPL in decreasing risks and achieving cost target for the particular mission.
Sample Handling Assembly
The robotic SHA arm will be placed within the forward end of the Mars 2020 rover. The device will specifically study areas on Mars that are believed to be habitable at some point in time.
The arm is said to be a vital component of the Adaptive Caching Assembly, which will control, study, store and release soil and rock specimen on the Martian surface.
Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission
ARRM aims to present the use of a spacecraft powered by solar electric propulsion to transport large payloads such as boulders. Such will serve as a testing medium for future human space missions to Mars.
To adhere to NASA's strategy of influencing commercially accessible capabilities, SSL's design for ARRM will be patterned according to the firm's famous commercial geostationary (GEO) satellite.
GEO satellites are said to possess power, propulsion and value all at the same time. At present, there are 80 SSL GEO spacecraft on orbit.
SSL is one of the top providers of commercial satellites all around the world. Among its expertise are support satellite operators and other high-tech space-related technologies.
SSL designs and creates spacecraft for various fields such as broadband Internet, video content distribution, Earth observation and mobile communications.
The company has been a Silicon Valley creator for over 50 years. Within this time period, it has also developed sophisticated robots, advanced small satellites and computerized solutions for remote missions.
SSL is also working with JPL in another project that involves studying a metal asteroid called Psyche.
In the past, SSL also provided a propulsion system for NASA Ames, which helped the successful Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) project in 2014.
Mars 2020 Rover
Mars 2020 rover measures about 10 feet in length, 9 feet in width and 7 feet in height. The rover's aim is to study habitability questions about Mars and examine natural resources and possible dangers in the Martian surface in preparation for the human mission to Mars.