Featured image: Mars 2020 is off to a firey start! (Image credit: Next Horizons Spaceflight/Stephen Marr)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – The rocket leapt into the cool, clear and breezy sky ending the Summer of Mars with the launch of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission at 7:50 AM EDT. It was launched aboard an ULA Atlas V 541 booster. This launch was previously delayed due to Covid-19 concerns. The Perseverance rover will land at the Jezero Crater on the surface of Mars on February 18, 2021.
With the launch of Mars 2020, a triad of spacecraft are on their way to the Red Planet. The Mars Hope orbiter, UAE’s first interplanetary mission, launched on July 19 and the Chinese Tianwen-1 mission launched on July 23. The ESA also planned to launch their Rosalind Franklin rover during this availability, but was cancelled due to a combination of factors including the Covid-19 pandemic.
Perseverance is a rover designed with life on Mars in mind. It is built on the flight proven chassis of the Curiosity-class of rovers. It holds a bevvy of instruments designed to search for ancient life, and to plan for future life on Mars. The biggest takeaway from this mission will be the caches of samples which will be left to be picked up by a future return mission planned for 2026.
Stay tuned for updates on the Mars Trio and all of your Space Coast spaceflight news!