The Spanish instrument MEDA, ready to travel to Mars

Figure: & nbsp; Representation of the Mars 2020 rover with all instruments on board.
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After five intense years, the Department of Advanced Instrumentation of the Center for Astrobiology (CAB-CSIC-INTA) has delivered to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) the flight elements of the MEDA instrument, which are being integrated into the rover Mars 2020 that NASA will send to Mars next year.

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The development of a spatial instrument such as MEDA ( Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer, analyzer of the environmental dynamics of Mars), does not conclude when the hardware is delivered for final assembly. After that important milestone begins a frantic activity that consists of the integration of all the systems in the rover : the instruments, the motor system, the cameras, the robotic arm, etc.

In the case of the Spanish instrument, the most important activity that has been carried out after the delivery has been the integration into the rover of the 'brain' of the instrument, called Instrument Control Unit (ICU, or Instrument Control Unit), and designed by Airbus-Tres Cantos. The MEDA engineering team monitored this activity throughout the afternoon of Saturday 18 until the morning of Sunday 19 of last May, and verified that the results of the tests carried out were as expected according to the procedures envisaged and with the requirements of the system. The next step will be the integration, first mechanically and then electronically, of all the sensors that make up MEDA, which will be placed in the vehicle.

Mars 2020 is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program. It consists of an explorer vehicle (similar to the Curiosity rover) that has scientific instruments and systems designed to look for traces of past life, characterize the geology and atmospheric atmosphere of the red planet, collect samples to be brought to Earth in future missions, and prepare a future human exploration of Mars.

MEDA consists of a total of seven sensors distributed by the roof and the vehicle's mast will be responsible for the environmental and dust characterization on the surface recording all these magnitudes uninterrupted throughout the duration of the mission. & nbsp;

The instrument has been built by an international team, led by the Center for Astrobiology, and which are part of the following Spanish institutions: INTA, University of Alcalá , Polytechnic University of Catalonia, University of Seville / Institute of Micorelectronics of Seville, Institute of Chemistry-Physics Rocasolano, University of the Basque Country, Airbus DS-Three Credits, ALTER Technology and AVS Added Value Solutions. In addition, the American JPL and Cornell University, the University of Padua (Italy) and the Finnish Meteorological Institute. The Center for Technological Development (CDTI) & nbsp; has participated in the financing of the project and in the management of the relationship with NASA. The Ministry of Science has also participated as a financing agent.

 

Fuente: UCC-CAB

 

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