NASA’s Perseverance rover is ready for its launch this week after passing another milestone test. The Perseverance rover is NASA’s fifth and most sophisticated Mars rover yet.
NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover passed its Flight Readiness Review last week and, on Monday, July 27, it also passed the Launch Readiness Review, clearing it to launch later this week. Should things go according to plan, the rover should be launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a United Launch Alliance rocket Thursday, July 30, at 7:50 a.m. EDT, although the window for the launch remains open until Aug. 15.
“Our @NASAPersevere rover is GO for launch on July 30,” the agency said in a tweet.
Given the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic, the public may not watch the launch personally but, anyone may still become a virtual guest through the multiple platforms from where people can watch it. This includes NASA TV, NASA Live, NASA’s YouTube channel and NASA’s Ustream account.
“We are in fact going to now launch what we now call Mars Perseverance in the year 2020. And I think the name is perfectly appropriate,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a broadcast. “We are in extraordinary times right now with the coronavirus pandemic, and yet we have in fact persevered and we have protected this mission because it is so important.”
It was not an easy journey for the Mars Perseverance rover. Its original launch date had to be moved several times from the original July 17 launch target. No matter when it launches, it will land on Mars’s Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021 after a seven-month journey to the Red Planet.
There, it will be the fifth rover NASA has sent to Mars, following Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity, which is the only one that is still active.
As NASA’s most advanced and sophisticated Mars rover yet, Perseverance will seek out signs of past microbial life on the planet and, collect soil and rock samples that another future mission will eventually retrieve and return to Earth in 2031.
Once Perseverance launches, it will be the third Mars mission to launch this summer, following the United Arab Emirates’ “Hope” mission, launched on July 19, and China’s Tianwen-1 mission, launched on July 23.