Cruise Stage Configuration
The cruise stage is the configuration of the spacecraft for the cruise phase (explained in launching).
The cruise stage is approximately 2.65 meters in diameter and 1.6 meters tall when attached to aero shell. It has a launch mass of 1063 kilograms. It is made out of aluminum. It also has a collection of the solar panels attached to it externally. These panels are about 2.65m in diameter. The solar arrays can provide up to 600 Watts of power near Earth and 300 Watts at Mars.
Heaters and multilayer insulation help in keeping the spacecraft electronics warm.
The rover is heated by a combination of:
The cruise stage consists of the following parts:
Star scanner and sun sensor: The star scanner and sun sensor are used to determine where the spacecraft is in space. This can be achieved by finding the position of the sun and other stars with respect to the spacecraft. This allows the navigator to come to know whether the craft is on track or has gone off course and navigation maneuvers are done. .
Propellant tanks - To ensure the spacecraft arrives at Mars in the right place for its planned landing, two lightweight, aluminum-lined tanks carry a maximum capacity of about 31 kilograms of hydrazine propellant. Along with cruise guidance and control systems, these tanks of propellant allow navigators to keep the spacecraft closely on course during cruise.
Communication system - Spacecraft use radio signals to communicate with Earth. Navigators send the commands through two X-band antennas on the cruise stage:
A low-gain antenna is mounted inside the inner ring and the medium-gain antenna is mounted in the outer ring. Now, while in space, the craft is stabilized by spinning at a rate of 2 rpm. Updates will make sure the antenna stays pointed toward Earth and that the solar panels stay pointed toward the sun. When farther from earth, the craft uses medium-gain antennas for communication.