Meet the project manager working on the development of the rocket that will bring samples from Mars to Earth

This illustration shows NASA’s Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), which will carry tubes containing Martian rock and soil samples into orbit around Mars, where ESA’s Earth Return Orbiter spacecraft will enclose them in a capsule of highly secure containment and deliver them to Earth. Credit: NASA

Currently, some 182 million miles (293 million kilometers) separate the red clay of Alabama from the dusty red planet Mars. But revolutionary flight hardware being developed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama will soon shorten that distance.

The new material is an integral part of the Mars Sample Return campaign, a landmark undertaking that will, for the first time, collect and provide samples from this distant extraterrestrial terrain for intensive study in laboratories on Earth. A strategic partnership of NASA and ESA (European Space Agency), Mars Sample Return will also bring us closer to human exploration missions to the Red Planet.

Angie Jackman, who has spent more than 35 years leading some of the agency’s most advanced propulsion and engineering projects, cutting-edge launch vehicle development programs and complex space science missions, is the Mars Project Manager. AscentVehicle.

Intended to be the first rocket ever launched from the surface of another planet, the Mars Ascent Vehicle will play a key role in the Mars Sample Return mission, launching samples collected by the Perseverance rover from the Earth into orbit around the Red Planet. ancient ground crater he is now exploring. There they will be transferred to ESA’s Earth Return Orbiter.

Jackman’s team includes structural, thermal, mechanical, systems and propulsion engineers, as well as analysts and technologists – a diverse team of NASA veterans alongside innovative newcomers – all deeply familiar with the vital intersection between flight hardware and scientific progress.

“Ask any engineer on the team, and they’ll tell you they’re fascinated by science,” Jackman said. “Engineers ask, ‘How?’ Scientists ask, ‘Why?’ Ultimately, this deeper imperative drives us all – the pride in helping advance our collective knowledge, increasing our ability to safely navigate our world, and better understanding our place in the cosmos.”

NASA's Angie Jackman is working on developing a rocket that will bring samples from Mars to Earthproject manager Angie Jackman holds a 3D printed model of the tubes that NASA’s Perseverance rover is already filling with samples of Martian rock and soil. Scheduled to be the first rocket to be launched from another planet, the MAV is designed to carry the sealed samples into orbit around Mars. Credit: NASA”/>

Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) project manager Angie Jackman holds a 3D printed model of the tubes that NASA’s Perseverance rover is already filling with samples of Martian rock and soil. Scheduled to be the first rocket to be launched from another planet, the MAV is designed to carry the sealed samples into orbit around Mars. Credit: NASA

The Marshall team is partnering with Lockheed Martin Space of Littleton, Colorado, which is building the Mars Ascent Vehicle Integrated System and designing and developing the rocket’s ground support equipment, and Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation of Elkton, Maryland, who is leading the development of the ascent vehicle. Propulsion system.

“Together, we are working to take the Mars Ascent Vehicle from a drawing board concept to an executable project,” Jackman said. “We performed exhaustive design iterations to reduce vehicle mass, ensure automated launch capability, and accurately achieve the orbit necessary to meet the Earth Return Orbiter and transfer samples for the return flight to Earth. .”

The combination of launch vehicle reliability with the light mass and storage requirements of a complex science payload leverages strengths that NASA has exhibited in many past science and exploration missions. Marshall’s engineers and mission leaders have solved complex, technical spaceflight challenges for more than 70 years, from the groundbreaking Apollo lunar missions and Space Shuttle program to NASA’s Space Launch System, the powerful new rocket intended to launch missions that will bring the first woman and first person of color to the moon.

Like most career aerospace managers, Jackman gleans best practices from decades of NASA precedents and lessons learned, but always challenges his team to challenge conventional wisdom, to seek new alternatives that transcend traditional thought.

“In this competitive and cost-conscious age, we need to work smarter, faster and more efficiently,” she said. “Anyone can build a great, strong bridge, but it takes a team of disciplined engineers to build one on time and strong enough to get the job done. This project leverages every aspect of Marshall’s expertise as a as NASA’s leader in propulsion, spaceflight systems, and science. I’m so proud of our team. We get it.

NASA’s Mars Sample Return mission will revolutionize our understanding of Mars by returning samples for study using the world’s most sophisticated instruments. These samples, collected by Perseverance during its exploration of an ancient river delta, are seen as the best opportunity to reveal Mars’ early evolution, including the potential for life. The mission will fulfill a solar system exploration objective as identified by the National Academy of Sciences.


Lockheed Martin wins contract with NASA to bring samples from Mars back to Earth


More information:
Learn more about the Mars Sample Return mission here.

Provided by Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Quote: Meet the project manager working on developing the rocket that will bring samples from Mars to Earth (2022, March 8) Retrieved March 8, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-03-rocket-mars- samples-earth. html

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