NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter on April 6, 2021, the 46th Martian day of its mission. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s MMRTG is visible, located at the aft end of the rover on the right side of the image. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
May 13, 2021 - After successfully landing on the surface of Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover is embarking on its two-year sample collection mission, powered by a generator provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne in collaboration with Teledyne Energy Systems and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory. Designed and built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Perseverance rover’s mission is designed to search for evidence of ancient microbial life on the Martian surface.
The Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) supplies electrical power to the rover as it traverses the red planet, assessing signs of past life and collecting samples that could be returned to Earth on a future mission. Perseverance’s predecessor, NASA’s Curiosity rover, has been exploring the Martian surface since 2012 also powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne- built MMRTG.
“Sustainable exploration on the Moon and Mars will require a mix of power systems, including nuclear power sources, such as the MMRTG” said Aerojet Rocketdyne Sr. VP of Space Jim Maser. “Nuclear power systems provide reliable power that is independent of exposure to the Sun, seasons and weather conditions.”
Radioisotope power systems enable and enhance missions by providing electrical power to explore remote and challenging environments where solar power is unavailable or inconsistent. The continuous power of the MMRTG provides engineers with operational flexibility to optimize scientific returns.
Developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne and its teammate Teledyne Energy Systems, the MMRTG is identifiable by its metallic fins and is located at the aft end of the rover. Perseverance rover will give scientists a better understanding of the geology of Mars and will ultimately make discoveries to pave the way for human exploration of the planet.
Aerojet Rocketdyne was a critical Mars 2020 mission partner, providing propulsion that supported the launch in 2020, as well as the entry, descent and landing.