NASA Perseverance rover ready to explore the wilds of Mars

Pablo Tucker
August 1, 2020

/Public Release. View in full here.

As scheduled, a ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida yesterday morning. Navigation data indicate the spacecraft is perfectly on course to Mars.

Mars 2020 sent its first signal to ground controllers at 9:15 am (6:45 pm IST) but it was not until 11:30 am (9:00 pm IST) that it established telemetry - more detailed spacecraft data.

The launch took place after the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) facility in Pasadena, California where its mission engineers were located was rattled by an quake.

All temperatures are now nominal and the spacecraft is out of Earth's shadow.

The rover will land at Mars' Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021.

When a spacecraft enters safe mode, all but essential systems are turned off until it receives new commands from mission control.

The primary goal of the mission is to answer one of the key questions of astrobiology: Are there potential signs of past microbial life, or biosignatures on the Red Planet?

Scientists have long debated whether Mars - once a much more hospitable place than it is today - ever harboured life. Perseverance also features seven instruments, including the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment or MOXIE, which seeks to demonstrate the ability to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. A NASA-provided payload on the orbiter would provide the capabilities needed to capture and contain the samples, placing them in an Earth entry vehicle that would land the samples safely on USA soil.

On board Perseverance is a 1.8kg autonomous helicopter named Ingenuity, which is due to test powered flight on Mars. "Next stop, Jezero Crater".

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of America's larger Moon to Mars exploration approach that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

The United States plans to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s under a program that envisions using a return to the moon as a testing platform for human missions before making the more ambitious crewed Martian voyage.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and will manage operations of the Mars Perseverance rover.

Other reports by iNewsToday