NASA said that the spacecraft had developed a fracture which was occurred near the shield’s outer edge and it spread across the circumference of the component. This develops the setback for the NASA mission to collect the samples on Mars, but NASA officials said that it would not affect the launch date on 2020.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released a statement in late April 26th, 2018, in which it says that the structure which is a part of the heat shield for the Mars 2020 spacecraft was got cracked during the testing which was taken place earlier in the month at Lockheed Martin facility near Denver.
The fracture which was developed in the composite structure is situated near the outer edge of the shield and spread to the circumference. The crack was detected on April 12th, 2018 after the heat shield underwent a week of testing at the Lockheed facility where it was under the force of 20 percent above the normal entry into the Martian atmosphere.
The project officials of the Mars 2020 working at JPL with Lockheed Martin are now examining the cause for which the crack has developed. According to JPL, the structure will get repaired to support another spacecraft testing, but the same structure will not be used for flying. A new heat shield will be built for the use of the mission.
The heat shield that developed crack was built more than a decade ago for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. This mission was landed the Curiosity rover on the Mars surface in August 2012, and this shield is one of the two shield built for this mission. The shield underwent testing in the year 2008 and was a spare shield for the MSL mission.
Mars 2020 is based on the footprints of the MSL design, and it will use the same approach for entry, descent, and landing which was successful for the earlier mission. Mars 2020 make use of spare hardware from the MSL mission, but changes that are made in this are like more durable wheels on the rover and a different suite of instruments.
Michael Meyer who is the lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program said at the MEPAG meeting that, “It’s going to be an international endeavor. We want everybody involved.” The study was focused on the scientific objectives of Mars Sample Return Objectives and Sample Team.