NASA's Atlas V 541, Perseverance Mars rover to launch today

James Marshall
July 31, 2020

On July 28, United Launch Alliance rolled the stacked Atlas V "Mars 2020" rocket out to Launch Complex 41, in advance of an anticipated launch on Thursday, July 30, 2020. The launch window will remain open for two hours.

The launch window will be from July 30 - August 15, 2020, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Previous rovers, including Curiosity, have shown that the Red Planet was "habitable", i.e. that the conditions thought to be conducive to the appearance of life (carbon, water, favorable climate) were present about 3.5 billion years ago.

The launch will, however, depend on weather and technical factors as it was previously delayed from earlier in the month because of technical issues. If it misses its mark, it will have to wait nearly two years for the next opportune time. Just today it was announced that Airbus will build the spacecraft responsible for delivering this precious cargo to Earth, in a mission that's expected to launch in 2026. It is only once every two years that the two planets come into flawless alignment with each other around the Sun. "We've learned so much about Mars, but we still can't answer one big question: has life ever existed there?"

And for future missions to the Red Planet, Filipinos are leading the roster of name submissions.

After Perseverance lands in Jezero Crater on the Red Planet on 18 February, 2021, the plan is for the helicopter named Ingenuity to hover above the Martian terrain after that date.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - The summer's third and final mission to Mars - featuring NASA's most elaborate life-hunting rover - is on the verge of liftoff.

Perseverance will also collect rocks and soil samples, place them in small containers, and drop them onto the surface for a future mission to collect and transport to Earth.

China's Tianwen-1 mission is even more ambitious, comprising an orbiter, a lander and a rover.

The rover Perseverance will follow China's rover-orbiter combo and a United Arab Emirates orbiter, both launched last week.

This unprecedented effort will involve multiple launches and spacecraft - and cost more than US$8 billion (AUD$11 billion).

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine spoke on the sample return mission, citing its significance - "That'll be the first time in history that we've done a Mars return mission..."

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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