The Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars in August of 2012, and a new one is on the way.
Scheduled for a launch to Mars on July 20 of this year, the new robotic vehicle known as Perseverance will use its SuperCam, onboard helicopter , and seven science instruments to find signs of life, and even possibly return rock and soil samples back to Earth.
But how much of Curiosity is in Perseverance? Do the rover look the same? Do they have similar components?
In a live Q&A presentation on Tech Briefs called Mars 2020: The Legacy Continues for NASA Space Robotics, a reader asked Keith Comeaux, Mars 2020 Deputy Chief Engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory:
"How much spare hardware from Curiosity is used on Perseverance? How much, if any, cost savings resulted from any use of Curiosity spare parts?"
Read Comeaux's edited response below.
Keith Comeaux, Mars 2020 Deputy Chief Engineer, NASA JPL: I don't have an equipment list rundown, but we did use a significant amount of spare parts on the Curiosity mission. Most notably, the descent-stage structure was our qualification structure that we used on Curiosity. We're taking it to Mars this time around. We did intend to use our spare heat shield, but we ran into a problem with that and had to build another one. Our landing radar has quite a few components that we've reused from Curiosity as well.
The biggest savings that we've gotten from the Curiosity mission is really in the design and the operation of it. We didn't have go through all of the hard "lessons learned" to arrive at a new design for many of the subsystems, in particular all of the heritage avionics from Curiosity. While the boxes themselves may not be spare, many of the boards and parts are.
And I don't have an exact figure for you on dollars saved, but it's probably tens of millions, if not 100 million dollars, both in the reuse of the design as well as the parts.
What do you think? Share your questions and comments below.
Read our Tech Briefs series: Mars 2020 — Perseverance to the Red Planet.