The next Mars rover will not leave Earth on the 17th of July, after all.
The launch of the Perseverance rover from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station has been pushed to the 20th of July because they needed more time for the team to repair a problem with arose with the ground system equipment.
They found an issue with a faulty crane, according to the CEO of United Launch Alliance Tory Bruno: “Crane, now fixed. Rocket is fine.”, he later stated.
The launch window for the Rover has extended through the 11th of August. But this is also a hard–to–reach deadline because it shows the end of a lift–off opportunity, which comes around every 26 months. Keep in mind that Earth and Mars are not correctly aligned for interplanetary missions very often.
When Perseverance lifts off during this window, the robot will land inside Mars’ 45 kilometers Jezero Crater on the 18th of February 2021. The Rover will look for signs of ancient life in Jezero, which used to host a lake and a river delta billions of years ago.
Perseverance, which is the most important piece of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, will also take a look at the geology area and will perform many other tasks. Let us take a clear example: one of the instruments of the Rover will generate oxygen from the carbon dioxide atmosphere of Mars. After scaling up, we could actually help the human exploration of the Red Planet.
There is also another instrument that will tag along on the Mars 2020 mission – a small helicopter scout that will deploy from the Rover and will make some short flights in the air of Mars. Its name is Ingenuity, and if it performs well, it might start to have an even bigger role in the future Mars missions.