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NASA’s Mars launch depends on the weather. Here’s how it’s looking

The rocket that will launch NASA’s Perseverance rover to Mars is now in place on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The highly anticipated lift-off that will begin NASA’s first rover mission to Mars since 2011 is scheduled to take place at 7:50 a.m. ET on Thursday, July 30.

Of course, weather conditions can always disrupt a carefully planned launch schedule, so how’s it looking for Thursday?

The good news is that the current forecast suggests there’s an excellent chance that United Launch Alliance’s tried-and-true Atlas V rocket will leave the launchpad on schedule, or at the very least within its two-hour launch window.

A forecast issued by the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron on July 28 indicates there’s an 80% chance of conditions being acceptable for lift-off.

The squadron’s forecast describes a dry morning and light ground winds, perfect for the rocket’s early launch. But it added that while “overall conditions are favorable … an isolated shower just offshore and some mid-level clouds along the coast” could become an issue.

Partly cloudy skies are expected along Florida’s so-called Space Coast on Thursday morning, with temperatures hovering around 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

A severe storm is also heading toward Florida from the Caribbean though it’s not likely to reach the state until Saturday, by which time Perseverance, the Ingenuity helicopter, and a piece of Mars rock, will hopefully be well on their way to the red planet.

If any unexpected climatic changes between now and Thursday present a risk to the rocket and its payload, NASA will halt the countdown and wait for better conditions to develop, with the next launch opportunity coming the following day. The mission’s launch window runs through August 15, so NASA has plenty of time.

In summary, the conditions for Thursday are looking good, so expect to see the rocket blast off on schedule.

Digital Trends has everything you need to know to watch the lift-off as it happens.

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