Thermal Operability Improvements for the Mars 2020 Rover Surface Mission
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The Mars 2020 Rover is scheduled to land on Mars on February 18, 2021. One of the primary mission objectives for the Mars 2020 Rover is to perform in-situ science and collect a set of Martian regolith samples for possible future return to Earth. In order to meet mission requirements, 20 samples must be collected, assessed, and sealed during the prime mission (1.5 Martian years, approximately 1000 Sols). This requires that the Mars 2020 Rover operate in a much more efficient and autonomous manner than its predecessor, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Rover, Curiosity. The thermal designs of both Curiosity and the Mars 2020 Rover utilize warmup heaters to bring the actuators and cameras, located on the outside of the vehicle, up to their operating temperatures prior to use. These heaters consume energy during the mission. The Rover energy balance, between energy production and consumption, must be maintained in order to keep the mission moving safely forward. Increased efficiency in the way this warmup heater energy is allocated and used in the Mars 2020 Rover operations plan will result in more energy available for science and engineering activities. This paper discusses the improvements that were made in both hardware and software to improve the way the Mars 2020 Rover will operate thermally on Mars.