Image and content provided by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
The NASA Perseverance rover has a number of science missions and functions with numerous areas of focus, from detection of extinct life, collection of Martian soil samples for eventual return to earth for more rigorous analysis, experimenting with the generation of oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, to the deployment of a small helicopter to assist in the identification of areas for further exploration.
These systems aboard the NASA Perseverance rover have been rigorously researched, developed, designed and deployed through a multi-year program. The participants in the development of these systems represent a large cross section of the space industry, ranging from academic institutions, foreign space agency partners, major aerospace companies and the small business community.
In concert with the NASA SBIR/STTR program, over multiple years technologies were included in the annual NASA SBIR/STTR solicitation which had the potential to contribute the NASA Perseverance rover mission.
With the landing of the NASA Perseverance rover on Mars, the NASA SBIR/STTR program sifted through the technologies fielded on the rover and has found 8 distinct assemblies, subsystems or components that had their initial research and development funding provided through the NASA SBIR/STTR program.
These technologies enable or contribute to Perseverance’s electrical power (Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries), daily operations (dust mitigation tool), space suit material experiment, exploration (laser, six axis force torque transducer, robotic arm), Martian oxygen experiment (scroll compressor) and rover operation for sample collection (Witness Plate Assemblies).
The diagram titled “SBIR TECH ON-BOARD MARS 2020 PERSEVERANCE ROVER” illustrates the technical contributions and small businesses1 that worked with NASA, beginning with the SBIR/STTR program which lead to follow on development contracts and eventually to procurements of material that are now roving on Mars.
1Several of the companies listed the diagram are no longer small businesses as defined by the SBA as they have been acquired or grown to an employee population greater than 500 employees.