NASA has installed a webcam that allows the public to get a live, bird’s-eye view of its Mars 2020 rover as it takes shape, the US space agency said. The move will allow people to watch as engineers and technicians assemble at and test the rover the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US before it embarks next year.
“There is so much happening and changing in the clean room, I come here every opportunity I get,” said John McNamee of JPL. “It is great that we can share this part of our journey to the Red Planet with the public anytime they want,” said McNamee, project manager of Mars 2020.
Dubbed “Seeing 2020,” the webcam provides the video feed from a viewing gallery above the clean room floor. Viewers can also participate in live webchats with members of JPL’s social media team and the Mars 2020 team as they answer questions from the public about the mission.
Months of final assembly and testing lie ahead before the Mars 2020 rover is ready to ship to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch period begins July 17, 2020, according to NASA.
Once the Mars 2020 rover arrives at Mars on February 18, 2021, it will not only seek signs of ancient habitable conditions — and past microbial life — but collect rock and soil samples, storing them in sample tubes on the planet’s surface.