In an unexpected turn of events, the heat shield designed to protect NASA’s 2020 Mars rover developed a crack, prompting the space agency to start working on a new one.
The fracture, which occurred during the most recent set of structural tests, appeared on the outer-edge of the shield and covered the entire circumference of the whole thing. Officials at NASA are already working with those at Lockheed Martin Space, the developer of the component, in order to gain more insight into how the crack appeared and see if any design is needed to prevent such damage in the future.
“After a recent Mars 2020 rover heat shield test, teams identified a fracture in the structure,” tweeted Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA’s science directorate. “I’m happy that our standard test procedures revealed the issue & allow the team to build a replacement without impacting the launch readiness date.”
Despite this setback and the additional amount of effort going towards the development and testing of the new-shield, the agency has assured that it will not push back the launch of the $2 billion mission, which is scheduled to lift-off in July 2020. The cost of replacing the shield with a new one was also not revealed.