QR.bizNewsULA's Atlas V Rocket Launches NASA's Perseverance Rover for Mars 2020 Mission

ULA's Atlas V Rocket Launches NASA's Perseverance Rover for Mars 2020 Mission

It's the site of an ancient lake bed and river delta that existed between 3 and 4 billion years ago - when Mars was warmer, wetter and habitable for potential life.

An Atlas V rocket carrying Perseverance's spaceship took off on schedule at 7:50 am (1150 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and its stages separated according to plan.

The launch took place after the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) facility in Pasadena, California, where its mission engineers were located, was rattled by an natural disaster.

"The spacecraft is in good health and on its way to Mars", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote on Twitter.

NASA said Thursday the spacecraft transmitted its first signal to ground controllers through the agency's Deep Space Network an hour after launch and entered safe mode in the next few hours as indicated by telemetry data. The issue was quickly resolved.

This marked NASA's ninth journey to the Martian surface.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Mike Watkins joked about the California quake, saying it was "just the Earth being excited about going to Mars". It was a very minor event. A major setback for the Mars 2020 mission is exactly what we don't need right now.

The rover will land at Mars' Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021.

Scientists have long debated whether Mars - once a much more hospitable place than it is today - ever harbored life. It is the third mission to depart Earth this summer, but the first for the United States.

Aboard the rover are the Sample Caching System and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, a technology demonstrator that will perform up to five controlled flights. The thin Martian atmosphere - 99% less dense than Earth's - poses a challenge to Ingenuity, which was created to be light, with rotor blades that are larger and spin more quickly than needed for a helicopter of its mass on Earth.

Perseverance Rover is part of NASA's long-term robotic exploration program of Mars.

Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA aims to establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through the agency's Artemis programme.

Among the many high-tech tools on board the Perseverance, the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, or MOXIE, is created to prove that it is in fact possible to convert Martian carbon dioxide into oxygen.

See NASA's big plans for its new Mars rover Perseverance

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