DALLAS, Aug. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Jacobs (NYSE:J) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently built a new calibration device for the Mars Perseverance Rover which will seek signs of past microbial life and collect rock and soil samples. Launched July 30, 2020, NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover will travel over a seven-month period to the red planet. Once it lands, the rover will use several analytical science instruments to search for signs that there once was life on Mars.
One of the devices called the Scanning Habitable Environments with Ramen & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals, or SHERLOC, will be used to detect chemicals on the Martian surface that are linked to the possible existence of ancient life. The Science team at Jacobs working in the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Division at NASA Johnson Space Center built a new calibration device to check SHERLOC's function and properly tune it for use on the surface of Mars and throughout the duration of the Mars 2020 mission.
"NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover is equipped with sophisticated scientific instruments to aid in the search for signs of past life on Mars," said Jacobs Critical Mission Solutions Senior Vice President Steve Arnette. "The calibration device is another example of Jacobs' longstanding partnership with NASA in delivering innovative technologies that lead to scientific discoveries."
The calibration device is mounted on the front of the rover so that researchers can check SHERLOC's analytical instrumentation's accuracy by directing it to scan the baseline materials on the calibration target. The researchers will know in advance what the readings on those materials should be when SHERLOC is working correctly. If the actual readings are off, they can make adjustments to SHERLOC to get it set properly or know to compensate for the errors when they analyze the data later.
"The rover's scientific instruments go through all sorts of harsh conditions from the time they leave the lab until they arrive on the surface of Mars," said Jacobs chief scientist Trevor Graff. "SHERLOC needed a way to make sure it still operates as expected once it's on the surface and throughout the duration of the mission."
The rover has a piece of Martian meteorite on board as well, which was discovered on Earth in 1999, that it will return to the surface of the red planet for further scientific studies. Researchers plan to closely watch the meteorite sample to see how the Martian environment alters it over time, which will help them understand the chemical interactions between the planet's surface and its atmosphere.
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