The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission this week cleared NASA’s Flight Readiness Review, allowing the team to go for launch at 7:50 a.m. (ET) on Thursday, July 30. Of course, weather conditions or an unexpected issue could change that, but if everything runs as planned over the next week and the climatic conditions over the launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida, are calm, then we can look forward to the exciting spectacle of United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket lifting off as scheduled.
A week ahead of the much-anticipated departure, NASA has posted a short video (below) showing Perseverance’s cross-country journey to the launchpad. as well as the procedure for getting it aboard the rocket.
The rover’s trip started at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where the vehicle was built before being thoroughly tested in preparation for its challenging Mars mission.
It was then carefully packed and flown to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. As the video shows, Perseverance was then integrated with the spacecraft that will carry it to Mars and, finally, placed atop the Atlas V rocket.
The rover will also be traveling with Ingenuity, a diminutive autonomous helicopter that’s set to become the first aircraft to fly on another planet.
If NASA can meet its launch window, which runs through August 15, 2020, then Perseverance and Ingenuity will arrive on the Martian surface in February 2021.
Perseverance will explore Mars for signs of ancient life, and collect rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth, while Ingenuity will help NASA to locate potentially useful research sites on the planet, and also gather data that will enable the space agency to create new routes for future Mars rovers to follow. NASA recently released an insightful video showing how Ingenuity will embark on its maiden Mars flight after it detaches from Perseverance’s underbelly.
“This mission is emblematic of our nation’s spirit of meeting problems head-on and finding solutions together,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Wednesday after the mission passed its Flight Readiness Review. “The incredible science Perseverance will enable and the bold human missions it will help make possible are going to be inspirations for us all.”
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