NASA Perseverance Rover launch HIGHLIGHTS: Communication signal acquired, the rover is on its way to Mars

NASA Perseverance Rover launch HIGHLIGHTS: Communication signal acquired, the rover is on its way to Mars

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  • 19:00 (IST)

    Good bye. Good luck. Sayonara. 

    We are signing off! 

  • 18:50 (IST)

    The launch process is now complete and everyone working on this mission is hoping for quite seven months. 

  • 18:50 (IST)

    Communication link acquired

    This spacecraft has let the team know that it is safe and on its way to Mars. This is the confirmation needed that the control team had been waiting for. 

    The DSN has locked on to the spacecraft's signal that is flying to Mars. 

  • 18:47 (IST)

    COVID-19 has put a real damper on things at the control centre.

    The usual hustle and bustle of the entire team has dimmed to a splattering of NASA employees and claps. Here you see all precautionary measures being undertaken including social distancing and minimum work force. 

  • 18:35 (IST)

    The Perseverance rover is being powered by nuclear power - using plutonium. This nuclear battery will be able to power the rover for the next 14 years.

  • 18:24 (IST)

    The next milestone is checking communication links between the Perseverance rover and the Deep Space Network.  

    The DNS is an international network of antennas that provides communication links between planetary exploration spacecraft and their mission teams on Earth. It will smooth communication between the rover on Mars and the control team on Earth. 

  • 18:19 (IST)

    The Perseverance rover has successfully separated from the Atlas V rocket.

    It is on its way!

  • 18:16 (IST)

    Whew! The spacecraft is currently over the South Indian Ocean - almost half way around the world. That's FASSSST!

  • 18:14 (IST)

    The rocket engine has cut off and we are waiting on payload separation. 

  • 18:07 (IST)

    What is the difference between previous Mars missions and Perseverance rover? 

    A: This rover has the best geology instruments on it but it does not have any chemistry equipment on it, which is why NASA will be aiming to do the first round trip to a planet. Perseverance will be catching and saving rock samples that will make its way to Earth where it will be studied thoroughly. 

  • 18:01 (IST)

    Why is it important to go to Mars?

    A: It is important because it is the key to new research and to answer the question 'Is there life out there?' NASA believes that this mission will definitely give them the answers they seek. And they are ready for it. 

  • 17:52 (IST)

    The rocks in the Jezero crater are the oldest on Mars and by studying them, scientists will be able to understand the development off life on Mars and in the solar system. 

  • 17:47 (IST)

    The Jezero crater is thought to have once been a water-filled lake, some 3.5 million years ago. It is 250 meters deep and 45 kilometers wide and is the prime spot to look for traces of microbial life. 

  • 17:43 (IST)

    The rover is carrying seven very important instruments that will help it complete its science objectives. They are:

    • The Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL) instrument will measure the composition of rocks and soil.
    • Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) will be able to produce oxygen from carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere.
    • Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) will give us the current weather and climate on Mars.
    • Mastcam-Z is the camera that's mounted on the rover and the detective duo SHERLOC and its sidekick camera called WATSON.
    • The SuperCam on the Perseverance rover is what you would get if a camera, laser and a spectrometer had a child.
    • The Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX) uses radar waves to probe the ground under the rover and study the geologic features under the surface. 

  • 17:34 (IST)

    If NASA had not launched today, the teams would have to wait almost two years.  

    There is only a small window of time to launch a spacecraft to Mars that's once every two years when the two planets perfectly align. This alignment is the ideal time for an Earth-Mars journey since it saves on time, money, and fuel.  

  • 17:29 (IST)

    The science objective of Perseverance rover are:

    • Explore the geologically diverse landing site – the Jezero crater
    • Assess the habitability of the planet and look for signs of ancient life, particularly in special rocks known to preserve signs of life over time.
    • Gather rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth by a future NASA mission
    • Demonstrate technology for future robotic and human exploration
    • Spend at least one Mars year exploring the landing site region

  • 17:26 (IST)

    You can see a portion of the Earth visible at corner. This is incredible.

  • 17:25 (IST)

    Booster engine have shut off and separated. 

  • 17:25 (IST)

    Following a seven-month journey after its launch, Perseverance is will land at the Jezero Crater on Mars on 18 February 2021. 

  • 17:21 (IST)


  • 17:20 (IST)

    Fueling of the Atlas V rocket is starting to wrap up.

    One minute to go for the launch.  

  • 17:17 (IST)

    Seventh-grade student Alexander Mather from Virginia was the lucky guy who got to named the rover Perseverance and high school student Vaneeza Rupani named the helicopter Ingenuity. Their essay submissions were selected from around 28,000 entries in NASA’s 'Name the rover' essay contest held back in 2019.

  • 17:14 (IST)

    There is a not-so rogue stowaway that is hitchhiking a ride on the rover - It is the Ingenuity helicopter. 

    *you can see the little guy in the background of this image*

  • 17:12 (IST)

    The main goals of the Perseverance rover is to better understand the geology of Mars and find signs of ancient life.

  • 17:10 (IST)

    Fueling of the  Atlas V rocket has begun. It looks glorious. 

  • 17:09 (IST)

    Hey space nerds

    We are here for the launch of NASA's fifth rover Perseverance. We will be following the event live and cannot contain our excitement! 

The month's third and final mission to Mars, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) fifth Mars mission, the Perseverance rover, is all set to launch today, 30 July 2020.

The rover has been scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, aboard the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The two-hour launch window opens at 5.20 pm IST (07.50 am EDT) and closes at 7.20 pm IST (9.50 am EDT).

If there are any weather-related issues or technical failures, the mission has until 15 August 2020 to launch this year. NASA will need to wait another two years for the next opportune launch window if it misses the window for any reason.

This was also the case for the United Arab Emirates Al Amal (Hope) Mars mission, which was successfully sent off on 19 July, and China’s orbiter-rover-lander mission Tianwen-1 on 22 July.

As seen in this artist's concept, the SHERLOC instrument is located on the end of the robotic arm of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Artist illustration of the Perseverance rover in Jezero crater on Mars. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Following a seven-month journey after its launch, Perseverance is aiming to land at the Jezero Crater on Mars on 18 February 2021.

Perseverance is a six-wheeled rover about the size of an SUV, weighing 1,040 kilograms. It is NASA's most advanced rover to date. It has a 2-meter robotic arm with a stronger grip and bigger drill than the rovers that came before, to help pick up rock samples.

The rover is packed with 23 cameras, most of which record in colour, outside of the two cameras on the accompanying Ingenuity helicopter. It has seven instruments and hitchhiking helicopter that will be the first object to fly on another world.

Once on the surface, Perseverance will scrounge for evidence of past microscopic life in an ancient lakebed, and gather the most promising rock samples for future pickup. NASA is teaming up with the European Space Agency to return the samples to Earth around 2031.

Also read:

Possibility of life higher below surface of Mars, space radiation may act as catalyst, study suggests

NASA's Perseverance rover will bring Mars rocks to Earth: Our greatest interplanetary circus act

Why Mars' 'super weird' moons Phobos, Deimos have scientists confused and fascinated

NASA's Perseverance rover to Mars set for launch at 5.25 pm IST today: How to watch it live

Catch 'em young: Seventh-grade student names NASA'S 2020 Mars rover 'Perseverance'

NASA's Mars 2020 helicopter is named 'Ingenuity' by Alabama high school teen

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