Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | New Mars rover gets high-tech paint job for harsh conditions on Mars

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica |

Just like painting flames on a camaro —

It took three men several days to prep and paint just the rover’s chassis.


John Campanella does all kinds of custom paint jobs in his spare time, airbrushing designs on cars, semis, motorcycles, and guitars. But by day, he works in the paint shop of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, applying paint to components for Pathfinder, Juno, Cassini, and Deep Impact, among other NASA missions.

“I think my paint is just about everywhere in the solar system,” Campanella says. His team just finished painting the chassis for the Mars 2020 rover, which will be a nuclear-powered six-wheel drive machine about the size of an SUV. JPL features this under-appreciated process in a new video.

  • Schematic for the Mars 2020 rover


    NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Prepping the rover’s chassis with painter’s tape


    NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Applying the tape is an exacting task


    NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Almost done with the taping


    NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Now it’s time to prep the surface by sanding everything down.


    NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Applying the paint


    NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Chassis looking sharp after paint job


    NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Getting the chassis ready for transport


    NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Transporting the painted chassis


    NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Mechanical technician Eduardo (Eddie) Castro uses a paint meter to measure the paint thickness.


    NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Quality Assurance making sure the paint application is between 4 and 6 mils.


    NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Now the chassis is ready to meet the rest of the Mars 2020 rover’s components

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