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NASA’s Perseverance Rover Is Carrying First Spacesuit Materials to Mars – Here’s Why – SciTechDaily

Z-2 Prototype Spacesuit

Advanced spacesuit designer Amy Ross of NASA’s Johnson Space Center stands with the Z-2, a prototype spacesuit. Credit: NASA

In a Q&A, spacesuit designer Amy Ross explains how five samples, including a piece of helmet visor, will be tested aboard the rover, which was launched on July 30.

NASA is preparing to send the first woman and next man to the Moon, part of a larger strategy to send the first astronauts to the surface of Mars. But before they get there, they’ll be faced with a critical question: What should they wear on Mars, where the thin atmosphere allows more radiation from the Sun and cosmic rays to reach the ground?

Amy Ross is looking for answers. An advanced spacesuit designer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, she’s developing new suits for the Moon and Mars. So Ross is eagerly awaiting this summer’s launch of the Perseverance Mars rover, which will carry the first samples of spacesuit material ever sent to the Red Planet.

While the rover explores Jezero Crater, collecting rock and soil samples for future return to Earth, five small pieces of spacesuit material will be studied by an instrument aboard Perseverance called SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals). The materials, including a piece of helmet visor, are embedded alongside a fragment of a Martian meteorite in SHERLOC’s calibration target. That’s what scientists use to make sure an instrument’s settings are correct, comparing readings on Mars to base-level readings they got on Earth.

Read on as Ross shares insights into the materials chosen and the differences between suits designed for the Moon and those for Mars. More information about SHERLOC and the rover’s science can be found here.

Prototype Astronaut Suit Calibration Target

This graphic shows an illustration of a prototype astronaut suit, left, along with suit samples included in the calibration target, lower right, belonging to the SHERLOC instrument aboard the Perseverance rover. They’ll be observed to see how they hold up in the intense radiation of the Martian surface. Credit: NASA

Why were these particular materials on SHERLOC’s calibration target selected?

Ross: The materials we’re poking at the most are meant to be on the outer layer of a suit, since these will be exposed to the most radiation. There’s ortho-fabric, something we have a lot of experience using on the outside of spacesuits. That’s three materials in one: It includes Nomex, a flame-resistant material found in firefighter outfits; Gore-Tex, which is waterproof but breathable; and Kevlar, which has been used in bulletproof vests.

We are also testing a sample of Vectran on its own, which we currently use for the palms of spacesuit gloves. It’s cut-resistant, which is useful on the International Space Station: Micrometeoroids strike handrails outside the station, creating pits with sharp edges that can cut gloves.

We included a sample of Teflon, which we’ve used in spacesuits for a long time as part of astronaut glove gauntlets and the backs of gloves. Just like a nonstick pan, it’s slippery, and it’s harder to catch and tear a fabric if it’s slick. We also included a sample of Teflon with a dust-resistant coating.

Finally, there’s a piece of polycarbonate, which we use for helmet bubbles and visors because it helps reduce ultraviolet light. A nice thing about it is it doesn’t shatter. If impacted, it bends rather than breaks and still has good optical properties.

How will SHERLOC check the samples?

Ross: On Mars, radiation will break down the chemical composition of the materials, weakening their tensile strength. We want to figure out how long these materials will last. Do we need to develop new materials, or will these hang in there?

SHERLOC can get the spectra, or composition, of rocks the mission’s scientists want to study. It can do the same thing for these spacesuit materials. We’ve already tested them on Earth, bathing samples in radiation and then analyzing their spectra. The results of those tests, conducted in ultraviolet vacuum chambers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, will be compared to what we see on Mars.

Will Martian dust be a challenge?

Ross: Sure, it’s an engineering challenge, but there’s no reason we can’t design things to operate in dust. We’re already developing things like seals that keep dust out of our bearings. Spacesuits have bearings at the shoulders, wrists, hip, upper thighs, and ankles. They all give an astronaut mobility for walking, kneeling, and other movements you’d need to get up close to rocks or maintain a habitat.

Remember, our suits inflate to over 4 pounds per square inch of pressure. That’s not a crazy amount of pressure, but it’s pretty stiff. When you put a human inside a balloon and ask them to move, they’ll have trouble. It’s as tight as the head of a drum. So we need to seal off the bearings so dust doesn’t gunk them up.

We are looking for other ways to protect the suit from Martian dust over a long-duration mission. We know that a coated or film material will be better than a woven material that has space between the woven yarns. The two Teflon samples let us look at that as well as the performance of the dust-resistant coating.

How much would spacesuit design differ between the space station, the Moon, and Mars?

Ross: Spacesuit design depends on where you’re going and what you’re doing. The ISS suit is designed specifically for microgravity. If you go on a spacewalk, you’re not really walking; you use your hands everywhere. Your lower torso is just used as a stable platform for your upper body. The suit is also exposed to two environmental sources of degradation: solar radiation and atomic oxygen. Atomic oxygen is different from the oxygen we breathe. It’s very reactive and can degrade spacesuit materials.

The Moon doesn’t have the atomic oxygen problem but is worse than Mars in terms of radiation. You’re pretty close to the Sun and have no atmosphere to scatter the ultraviolet radiation like you do on Mars. The Moon is a big testbed for the Artemis program. The environments of the Moon and Mars aren’t exactly the same, but the durability challenges — materials exposed over long periods of time at low pressures in a dusty environment — are similar.

On Mars, you’re farther from the Sun, and you have at least a little atmosphere to scatter the UV. But that’s when the duration of exposure starts to get you. You have to plan on being exposed on the surface most of the time. Mars spacesuits will be more like ones we use for the Moon and less like those for the ISS. I’m trying to make the Moon suit as much like the Mars suit as possible.

More About the Mission

Perseverance is a robotic scientist that weighs just under 2,300 pounds (1,043 kilograms). The rover’s astrobiology mission will search for signs of past microbial life. It will characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. Perseverance launched on July 30, 2020 and will land at Mars’ Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021.

A division of Caltech, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. The mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration plans.

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NASA's Perseverance

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission: Live updates – Space.com

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover lifted off successfully today, July 30, at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT) aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. 

The rover will take about seven months to travel to the Red Planet and, on Feb. 18, 2021, will land in Mars’ Jezero Crater to search for signs of life, explore the planet’s geology and much more. 

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Mars rover Perseverance out of ‘safe mode’

NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance, which went into a protective “safe mode” shortly after its launch yesterday, is back to normal operations and cruising toward the Red Planet. 

In an announcement today, July 31, NASA officials reported that Perseverance is healthy and out of “safe mode” following a temperature variance that prompted the rover’s onboard computer to enter the protective state. The spacecraft got a bit colder than expected when it zoomed through Earth’s shadow.

“With safe mode exit, the team is getting down to the business of interplanetary cruise,” Mars 2020 deputy project manager Matt Wallace, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in an update. “Next stop, Jezero Crater.”

“First, the proximity of the spacecraft to Earth immediately after launch was saturating the ground station receivers of NASA’s Deep Space Network. This is a known issue that we have encountered on other planetary missions, including during the launch of NASA’s Curiosity rover in 2011. The Perseverance team worked through prepared mitigation strategies that included detuning the receivers and pointing the antennas slightly off-target from the spacecraft to bring the signal within an acceptable range. We are now in lock on telemetry after taking these actions.

“The second issue was a transient event involving temperature on the spacecraft. The mission uses a liquid freon loop to bring heat from the center of the spacecraft to radiators on the cruise stage (the part that helps fly the rover to Mars), which have a view to space. We monitor the difference in temperature between the warm inlet to the radiators and the cooler outlet from the radiators. As the spacecraft entered into Earth’s shadow, the Sun was temporary blocked by Earth, and the outlet temperature dropped. This caused the difference between the warm inlet and cooler outlet to increase. This transient differential tripped an alarm and caused the spacecraft to transition into the standby mode known as ‘safe mode.’

“Modeling by the team predicted something like this could happen during eclipse – the time when the spacecraft is in Earth’s shadow – but we could not create this exact environment for tests prior to launch. Nor did we have flight data from Curiosity, because its trajectory had no eclipse. We set the limits for the temperature differential conservatively tight for triggering a safe mode. The philosophy is that it is far better to trigger a safe mode event when not required, than miss one that is. Safe mode is a stable and acceptable mode for the spacecraft, and triggering safe mode during this transitional phase is not problematic for Mars 2020.

“With the understanding of the causes of these issues, we are conducting the operations necessary to move the spacecraft back out of safe mode and into normal cruise mode.”

Percy’s first day to Mars

Today (July 31), NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover begins its first full day in its roughly seven-month trip to the Red Planet. Perseverance, or “Percy,” is now one of three craft traveling to Mars and slated to arrive in February 2021. 

The first to launch was the United Arab Emirates’ “Hope” orbiter, the second was China’s Tianwen-1 orbiter/lander/rover combined mission and now, Percy is well on its way to Mars where it will land in an ancient Martian Lake — Jezero Crater.

However, is this a space race to Mars? Not quite — here’s why.

While Hope will orbit Mars and Tianwen-1 will attempt to orbit around, land on the planet and explore, Percy will study Mars in a number of unique ways. One of the things Percy will do that has never been done before is the rover will cache samples of Martian material that will be picked up and transported to Earth with a future mission. Learn all about Percy’s sample-return efforts here

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Update on Perseverance rover in Safe Mode

Space.com has new details on the Perseverance Mars rover’s “safe mode” event that occurred shortly after launch. 

Matt Wallace, deputy project manager for Mars 2020 with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Space.com contributor Amy Thompson at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, that Perseverance’s safe mode condition has been traced to temperature fluctuations in the cooling system for its nuclear battery. Here’s her report: 

The rover’s power source is a nuclear powered generator known as an MMRTG. It’s attached to the rover, which is cocooned inside the entry capsule of the vehicle. When the rover is out in the breeze on the Martian surface, it’s fine. However, when it’s in the entry capsule (which will protect Perseverance during entry, descent and landing on Mars), things can get a bit warm. 

The Mars 2src2src rover's power system, called a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG), will be inserted into the aft end of the rover between the white panels with gold tubing.

The Mars 2020 rover’s power system, called a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG), sits at the aft of the rover. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

To help mitigate this issue, the vehicle relies on a cooling system that pumps freon from the MMRTG to a set of radiators. While this process is cycling, computers monitor the temperature differences to make sure the rover stays within preset parameters. 

As the spacecraft transitioned into its brief eclipse period — a part of its flight when the sun is being blocked by the Earth — that temperature difference increased rapidly, triggering the craft to enter safe mode.  

Wallace explained that since engineers cannot duplicate the space environment here on Earth, they estimate what the temperatures should be and set very conservative parameters. 

“Unfortunately, our analysis is never really perfect,” he told Space.com. “Curiosity didn’t have an eclipse in its flight trajectory so we didn’t have flight data to know what was going to happen.”

“The spacecraft was never in jeopardy,” he added. “Our philosophy is to be overly conservative on the parameters because we’d much rather trigger a safing event we didn’t need, than miss a safing event we do need.”

The team will continue to analyze the telemetry data that the vehicle has sent so far and double check that this is indeed the hiccup. Once that is complete, the team can put the rover back in an operational status.

Wallace says he expects for the spacecraft to return to normal operations mode tomorrow (July 31). But the team is not in any rush and are taking their time to carefully review all the data. Wallace says there’s plenty of time before the next big phase of the mission.  

Perseverance rover in ‘safe mode’ after launch

NASA officials just confirmed that the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover entered a protective “safe mode” after its launch today due to an unexpected temperature condition on the spacecraft. 

The rover’s launch was successful, with Perseverance on the right path to Mars. But shortly after liftoff, telemetry indicated the rover entered a “safe mode” due to unexpectedly cold temperatures, NASA officials said. 

“Data indicate the spacecraft had entered a state known as safe mode, likely because a part of the spacecraft was a little colder than expected while Mars 2020 was in Earth’s shadow,” NASA officials said in a statement. “All temperatures are now nominal and the spacecraft is out of Earth’s shadow.”

“Safe mode” is a protective state for spacecraft and rovers in which they shut down non-essential systems until receiving new commands from Earth. 

“An interplanetary launch is fast-paced and dynamic, so a spacecraft is designed to put itself in safe mode if its onboard computer perceives conditions are not within its preset parameters,” NASA officials wrote in the statement. “Right now, the Mars 2020 mission is completing a full health assessment on the spacecraft and is working to return the spacecraft to a nominal configuration for its journey to Mars.”

Mars rover Perseverance mission in good health

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science missions, said he’s thrilled with the launch. 

“I’m relieved. It’s a space mission now,” Zurbuchen said. The communications glitch is something the rover team is working on, but that’s part of the job when it comes to space missions, he added. 

Here’s some more amazing launch photos.

Image 1 of 1

A camera on the Centaur upper stage is watching the Mars 2src2src spacecraft travel away from the rocket after separation.

(Image credit: ULA)

Matt Wallace, NASA’s deputy project manager for Perseverance, said Perseverance may have experienced a  “temperature transient” event after launch that could have placed its computer in a protective safe mode, but more time is needed to confirm the telemetry. It should take about an hour to wrap that up, he said. 

In the meantime, Perseverance has now begun a 6.5-month cruise to Mars. This concludes on launch coverage, but updates will be posted as news on Perseverance is available throughout the mission. 

Thanks for joining us!

NASA gets Perseverance rover telemetry

NASA’s post-launch press conference for the Perseverance rover is under way. 

Matt Wallace, NASA’s deputy project manager for Perseverance, reports that the Deep Space Network has established a telemetry lock with the rover. As of 11:50 a.m. EDT (1550 GMT), it should take about 30 to 60 minutes to verify the rover’s condition, but all signs point to good health, Wallace said. 

Perseverance’s signal is extremely strong, and a bit overwhelming for the Deep Space Network’s sensitive receiver. A similar issue occurred after the Curiosity rover launch in 2011, he said. The signal is being modulated so the DSN can process it, he added.

Signal issues

Shortly after signal acquisition, NASA teams had an issue with matching signal strengths between the spacecraft and ground stations. However, this is seen as a temporary issue and one that is not only easily solvable, but that has been solved before, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine shared on Twitter. 



“We had a good launch this morning, we’re right on course for Mars and signal from @NASAPersevere is strong. We are working to configure the ground stations to match the strength of the spacecraft signal. This scenario is one we’ve worked through in the past with other missions,” Bridenstine tweeted

Read our launch wrap details all of the amazing moments from this mission here

We had a good launch this morning, we’re right on course for Mars and signal from @NASAPersevere is strong. We are working to configure the ground stations to match the strength of the spacecraft signal. This scenario is one we’ve worked through in the past with other missions.July 30, 2020

I am healthy and on my way to Mars, but may be too loud for the antennas on Earth while I’m so close. Ground stations are working to match my signal strength so that I can communicate clearly with my team. https://t.co/vLaRxcKomRJuly 30, 2020

Signal acquisition

Following successful spacecraft separation, NASA has reported that the mission “phoned home.”

The mission has officially made contact with ground controllers back on Earth. These signals were received by ground controllers through a NASA tracking station located in Canberra, Australia. 

Read our launch wrap details all of the amazing moments from this mission here

(Image credit: Joel Kowsky/NASA)

Mars 2020 separation

Huzzah! NASA’s Mars 2020 spacecraft, which contains the agency’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, has officially deployed from the Centaur upper stage as scheduled. In about 20 minutes, we can expect the first signals coming from that spacecraft to reach ground controllers on Earth at NASA. 

It’s official: NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is on its way to Mars. 

Read our launch wrap details all of the amazing moments from this mission here

At 11:30, you can tune back into NASA TV to watch the Mars 2020 Perseverance post-launch news conference. 

A camera on the Centaur upper stage is watching the Mars 2src2src spacecraft travel away from the rocket after separation.

A camera on the Centaur upper stage is watching the Mars 2020 spacecraft travel away from the rocket after separation. (Image credit: ULA)

Escape burn

ULA’s Atlas V rocket has successfully completed an “escape burn,” or its second and final engine firing, as scheduled. This burn is what pushes the vehicle out and towards the Red Planet, where it is set to arrive Feb. 18, 2021, nearly seven months from now. 

You can watch the mission unfold live here and on Space.com‘s homepage, courtesy of NASA.

NASA's Mars 2src2src mission.

NASA’s Mars 2020 mission.  (Image credit: NASA TV)

Centaur burn complete

The Atlas V’s first Centaur burn is complete, as scheduled for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission to the Red Planet. 

You can watch the mission unfold live here and on Space.com‘s homepage, courtesy of NASA.

(Image credit: NASA TV)

On our way to Mars

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is officially on its way to Mars, with a successful launch earlier this morning atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Check out this sweet photo of the mission making its way in space!

Mars 2src2src looking back at Earth.

Mars 2020 looking back at Earth.  (Image credit: NASA TV)

Centaur separation

Atlas V’s Common Core Booster, the first stage of the Atlas 5 rocket separates from Centaur, the upper stage of Atlas V, as scheduled. 

A view from the vehicle carrying NASA's Perseverance rover on July 3src, 2src2src.

A view from the vehicle carrying NASA’s Perseverance rover on July 30, 2020. (Image credit: NASA TV)

Payload fairing separation

PLF (Payload Fairing Separation): The Atlas V rocket’s payload fairing, or nose cone, which was made in Switzerland by Ruag Space and helped to protect the Atlas V rocket during launch, has separated from the vehicle as scheduled. 

SRB separation

SRB (Solid Rocket Booster) jettison: The solid rocket booster helping Atlas V launch the Mars rover Perseverance has separated from the booster as planned.

LAUNCH! Perseverance is on its way to Mars

Go Percy! Go Atlas V! Go Mars 2020! Go Centaur!

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover has officially lifted off for Mars from Florida in the United States. 

The rover successfully launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The car-sized rover is officially on its way to Jezero Crater on Mars, where it is set to arrive in about seven months on Feb. 18, 2021. 

You can watch the launch live here and on Space.com‘s homepage, courtesy of NASA.

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover blasted off from Florida on July 3src, 2src2src.

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover blasted off from Florida on July 30, 2020. (Image credit: NASA TV)

T-minus 10 minutes!

We are 10 minutes from launch! Make sure to tune in to watch history being made.

You can watch the launch live here and on Space.com‘s homepage, courtesy of NASA.

A view of the Mars 2src2src mission's ULA Atlas V rocket as seen before launch on July 3src, 2src2src.

A view of the Mars 2020 mission’s ULA Atlas V rocket as seen before launch on July 30, 2020. (Image credit: NASA TV)

Weather is GO!

The weather in Florida is beautiful and perfect for today’s launch. According to weather officer Jessica Williams, weather is observed and forecast GO for liftoff in just about half an hour. 

You can watch the launch live here and on Space.com‘s homepage, courtesy of NASA.

A view of the Atlas V rocket on the launch pad before blast off on July 3src, 2src2src.

A view of the Atlas V rocket on the launch pad before blast off on July 30, 2020. (Image credit: NASA TV)

Fully fueled

All tanks on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket are fully fueled, conditions are nominal and we are still on track for a 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT) launch. 

You can watch the launch live here and on Space.com‘s homepage, courtesy of NASA.

A view of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket holding the massive Mars rover Perseverance on the launch pad in Florida, as seen about one hour before the launch window opened on July 3src, 2src2src.

A view of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket holding the massive Mars rover Perseverance on the launch pad in Florida, as seen about one hour before the launch window opened on July 30, 2020. (Image credit: NASA TV)

Watch the launch live online – starting NOW!

It is officially 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT), which means that you can now follow along with the launch live online. You can watch the launch live here and on Space.com‘s homepage, courtesy of NASA, beginning now (7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT))!

NASA's Mars 2src2src Perseverance rover can be spotted here on the launch pad aboard United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket. The pair at situated on Space Launch Complex 41, Wednesday, July 29, 2src2src, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover can be spotted here on the launch pad aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket. The pair at situated on Space Launch Complex 41, Wednesday, July 29, 2020, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.  (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

One hour to go!

We are officially one hour out from today’s launch! The mission is still set to liftoff at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT) with NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.  

You can watch the launch live here and on Space.com‘s homepage, courtesy of NASA, beginning at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT).

In this long-exposure image, you can see United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket poised on the launch pad, ready to lift off, with NASA's Mars 2src2src Perseverance rover on board early on July 3src, 2src2src.

In this long-exposure image, you can see United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket poised on the launch pad, ready to lift off, with NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on board early on July 30, 2020.  (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

LOX, or liquid oxygen, loading has been officially completed for United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket’s first stage. The rocket will consume LOX alongside RP-1, a refined kerosene.

The launch is on track and liftoff for the mission remains set for 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT.) 

You can watch the launch live here and on Space.com‘s homepage, courtesy of NASA, beginning at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT).

ULA's Atlas V rocket sits on the launch pad on July 28, 2src2src, ready to launch NASA's Mars 2src2src Perseverance rover to Mar July 3src, 3src3src.

(Image credit: United Launch Alliance)

2 hours to launch!

It is officially two hours until NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover lifts off (at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT)) atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The weather looks good and “Percy” is poised for Mars!

How to watch live: here

NASA's Mars 2src2src rover Perseverance and its Atlas V rocket stand on the launch pad ahead of their planned July 3src, 2src2src, liftoff.

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover Perseverance and its Atlas V rocket stand on the launch pad ahead of their planned July 30, 2020, liftoff. (Image credit: Amy Thompson/Space.com)

NASA ready for Mars Perseverance rover launch

NASA's Mars 2src2src Perseverance rover is poised and ready to launch to Mars aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

(Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

The clock is ticking down toward the launch of NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance. Here’s how you can watch the launch live at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

NASA’s webcast begins at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT). The United Launch Alliance will begin its countdown coverage at 12:15 a.m. EDT (0415 GMT) with live updates appearing here

Space.com contributor Amy Thompson is in Cape Canaveral for the Perseverance launch. Check out her preview of the mission and its launch day.

Spacesuit tech and a Mars microphone on Perseverance

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, at right, and Tory Bruno, CEO of United Launch Alliance (ULA), watch the rollout of the ULA Atlas V 541 rocket, carrying NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter, as it rolls along to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on July 28, 2src2src.

(Image credit: Ben Smegelsky/NASA)

NASA is having some fun with less than a day remaining until the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover launches toward the Red Planet. In the photo above, you can see NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (right) and United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno appear to “balance” the Atlas V carrying Perseverance at Space Launch Complex 41 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. 

NASA has even started streaming live views from the launch pad ahead of tomorrow’s live launch webcast, which will begin at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT). Check it out here. 

But there’s some serious science still at work for the rover mission. 

Did you know there are microphones on Perseverance to bring us the sounds of Mars? You can read all about here from Space.com contributor Elizabeth Howell. 

Perseverance is also carrying a meteorite from Mars back to Mars as part of an experiment, according to collectSPACE.com editor Robert Pearlman. Pearlman also brings us this story about a piece of spacesuit material on Perseverance, which NASA  will use to test spacesuit technology for future astronaut missions.

Space.com’s Chelsea Gohd took a look at how Perseverance will help the search for life on Mars. Check it out here

Meanwhile, our senior writer Meghan Bartels dives in to the history of nuclear power on Mars and across the solar system. You can read that powerful story (see what we did there) here.

Finally, if you missed Space.com’s Summer of Mars panel today, don’t fret. You can catch the replay with Jim Watzin, director of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, and Jim Bell, President of the Planetary Society. Check that out here.

NASA’s Dr. Z talks Mars rover Perseverance

We caught up with Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, the Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, one day before NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover takes off for the Red Planet.  

In the video chat (check it out above!) he detailed the incredibly innovative tools that Perseverence, nicknamed “Percy,” will carry to Mars and what makes the rover and mission so unique and important. He also highlighted some of his favorite aspects of the mission, which will collect and cache samples that researchers hope will be carried to Earth with a future mission.

One day from launch

We are less than 24 hours away from the launch of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover! The rover will scour Mars for signs of ancient, microbial life. 

Tomorrow at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT), Percy will begin its journey to the Red Planet aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket which will launch from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

It’s time to get excited and prepare yourself to watch and enjoy the historic launch.

Today, you can hear NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s thoughts about the Mars-bound mission in a live-streamed video on NASA Live, which will begin at noon EST (1600 GMT.)

Also today, beginning at the same time, you can join Space.com for our “Summer of Mars” webinar, in which you’ll be able to connect with the Space.com community to discuss and learn about Perseverance, Mars, the search for life and so much more. 

Go here for up-to-date information on how to watch the launch tomorrow live. 

Perseverance is ready to launch. The rover is strapped in aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket which can be seen here on Tuesday, July 28, 2src2src on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Perseverance is ready to launch. The rover is strapped in aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket which can be seen here on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Mars rover Perseverance ‘go’ for launch

(Image credit: NASA)

Perseverance, formerly known as the Mars 2020 rover, passed its launch readiness review, NASA officials announced today (July 27.) This was the last major hurdle before the rover is launched on Thursday (July 30) and so, with a pretty good weather forecast and this major obstacle behind it, the mission is making serious progress towards the Red Planet. 

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NASA launches Perseverance rover on mission to Mars – CBS News


NASA launches Perseverance rover on mission to Mars – YouTube








































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NASA: Mars rover Perseverance in ‘safe mode’ after launch, but should recover – Space.com

An artist's illustration of NASA's Mars 2src2src Perseverance rover in cruise mode after launching into space. The rover launched toward Mars July 3src, 2src2src and will arrive on Feb. 18, 2src21.

An artist’s illustration of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover in cruise mode after launching into space. The rover launched toward Mars July 30, 2020 and will arrive on Feb. 18, 2021.

(Image: © NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA is celebrating the launch of its most advanced Mars rover ever today (July 30), even as engineers tackle a glitch that left the spacecraft in a protective “safe mode” shortly after liftoff. 

The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover launched toward the Red Planet at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT), riding an Atlas V rocket into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rover experienced minor communications and temperature glitches after launch, but the issues aren’t expected to harm the mission as a whole, NASA officials said.

“It was an amazing launch, right on time,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a post-launch news conference. “I think we’re in great shape. It was a great day for NASA.”

Live Updates: NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance launch in real time! 

Shortly after the conference, NASA confirmed that Perseverance slipped into “safe mode” due to an unexpected temperature difference. 

“Data indicate the spacecraft had entered a state known as safe mode, likely because a part of the spacecraft was a little colder than expected while Mars 2020 was in Earth’s shadow,” NASA officials said in a statement. “All temperatures are now nominal and the spacecraft is out of Earth’s shadow.”

Related: NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover to the Red Planet (photos)

Post-launch hiccups 

During today’s post-launch news conference, the team received word that one issue, a lingering communications issue, was fixed. Within the first few hours after launch, although mission personnel could pick up the signal the spacecraft was sending home, it wasn’t being processed correctly.

However, that situation didn’t cause much concern, Matt Wallace, deputy project manager for Mars 2020 with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, said during the briefing. The miscommunication was caused by the fact that NASA relies on a system called the Deep Space Network to communicate with Perseverance even soon after launch, when the spacecraft isn’t yet all that deep into space.

And, because the Deep Space Network is made up of massive antennas equipped with super sensitive receivers, the signal from a spacecraft so close to the network can end up blasting the system, like someone screaming directly into your ear. Engineers needed to tweak the network settings in order to actually process the information coming from the spacecraft.

“Just as the administrator was speaking, I did just get a text that we were able to lock up on that telemetry,” Wallace said. “All the indications that we have — and we have quite a few — are that the spacecraft is just fine.”

NASA’s Curiosity rover faced a similar issue during its launch in 2011, Wallace said. “It’s something that we’ve seen before with other Mars missions,” Bridenstine said. “This is not unusual. Everything is going according to plan.”

Perseverance’s ‘safe mode’ explained

The mission team revealed a second post-launch hiccup shortly later in the news conference: Perseverance went into safe mode. 

When the spacecraft got a little colder than expected passing through Earth’s shadow, it automatically put itself into that state, according to the NASA statement, although the spacecraft’s temperature quickly bounced back and isn’t concerning the team.

Wallace emphasized that such a status shouldn’t harm the mission as a whole. Safe mode is, as the name implies, designed to be safe for the spacecraft to be in right now. 

“The spacecraft is happy there,” Wallace said. “The team is working through that telemetry, they’re going to look to the rest of the spacecraft health. So far, everything I’ve seen looks good.”

Later, Wallace told Space.com that the Perseverance mission team had traced the the temperature issue to the system that uses freon to keep the rover’s nuclear battery cool. 

Because Perserverance’s launch carried it into Earth’s shadow, it led to colder than expected temperatures in the cooling system, as compared to a launch in uninterrupted sunlight, Wallace told Space.com. When NASA’s Curiosity rover, which has a similar nuclear battery, launched in 2011, it was always in daylight and did not experience the issue, he added.

“Unfortunately, our analysis is never really perfect,” Wallace added. “Curiosity didn’t have an eclipse in its flight trajectory so we didn’t have flight data to know what was going to happen.”

“The spacecraft was never in jeopardy,” he continued. “Our philosophy is to be overly conservative on the parameters because we’d much rather trigger a safing event we didn’t need, than miss a safing event we do need.”

The team will continue to analyze the telemetry data that the vehicle has sent so far and double check that this is indeed the hiccup. Once that is complete, the team can put the rover back in an operational status.

Wallace said he expects for the spacecraft to return to normal operations mode tomorrow (July 31). But the team is not in any rush and are taking their time to carefully review all the data.

Perseverance is scheduled to fly straight and steady for the next at least two weeks, anyway, he said, and so the team has time to get the spacecraft back into normal operating mode before the first necessary trajectory adjustment of its journey.

A gorgeous launch 

NASA's Mars rover Perseverance launches toward the Red Planet atop an Atlas V rocket, lifting off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 3src, 2src2src.

NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance launches toward the Red Planet atop an Atlas V rocket, lifting off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 30, 2020. (Image credit: ULA)

The launch itself went smoothly, with an unusually quiet countdown in mission control rooms, despite an earthquake that rattled southern California, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, about 20 minutes before the rocket fired in Florida.

Today’s liftoff marked an important victory for the agency, which worried that measures imposed to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic might slow launch preparations enough that Perseverance might miss its three-week window for a launch, which is dependent on orbital trajectories.

Another comparable opportunity wouldn’t come again until 2022; if that 26-month delay had occurred, it would have cost the agency an extra $500 million, according to Bridenstine, on top of an already difficult mission.

“[It was] adversity all along the way, but this is true for any project of this nature,” Bridenstine said of struggles before the pandemic, which included a cracked heat shield and the late addition of a complicated ride-along helicopter. “Then you put on top of that the coronavirus … I’m not gonna lie, it’s a challenge. It’s very stressful. But look, the teams made it happen.”

But, despite earlier delays that pushed the launch more than a week into its window, the spacecraft blasted off during its first shot of its first countdown.

“It was truly a team effort. And in every single case, everyone stood up and said, ‘Yes, we want to do what we can to help,'” Lori Glaze, director of the agency’s planetary science division, said. “Somehow, we made it through this.”

Now, the spacecraft and its human team back on Earth need to make it through a seven-month journey in deep space to reach the Red Planet. Once the spacecraft arrives at Mars, it will undergo the notoriously perilous process of entry, descent and landing.

That process will unfold on Feb. 18, 2021.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 5:54 p.m. EDT to include new comments from NASA’s Matt Wallace on the Perseverance rover’s safe mode event. Space.com contributor Amy Thompson contributed to this report from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

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Perseverance things

Perseverance will do things no rover has ever attempted on Mars — and pave the way for humans – CNN

(CNN)After years of designing, building, planning and testing, the NASA Perseverance rover’s launch readiness review has concluded, and it’s a go for launch on July 30.

Perseverance is armed with a multitude of new capabilities and instruments to explore and experience the red planet.
The rover is designed to determine whether life existed on ancient Mars, characterize the Martian climate and geology and prepare for human exploration. It will investigate Jezero Crater and search for any evidence that the ancient lake bed once supported life.
Perseverance will collect up to 43 samples of Martian rock and soil over the course of its two-year mission. These samples will be stowed in white tubes on the Martian surface to be returned to Earth on a future planned mission.
Riding along with Perseverance to Mars is Ingenuity, the first helicopter that will be flown on another planet. It’s one of several experiments that will test technological capabilities during this mission that may be used more in future missions.
Here’s a look at some of the other exciting features of Perseverance and how it can help pave the way for humans landing on Mars in the future.

Robotic eyes and ears

The rover’s high-resolution camera “eyes” will help Perseverance survey the landscape, look for intriguing rocks to sample and decide where to deploy some of its instruments.
Perseverance’s cameras will be capturing video during the rover’s “seven minutes of terror” as it lands itself on Mars without any help from its teams on Earth, due to the unavoidable communication delay between the two planets.
While the video won’t be available in real time during entry, descent and landing, it will be shared in the weeks after landing.
The rover is also carrying a couple of microphones, and the rover teams look forward to hearing the sounds of the rover’s wheels on the Martian surface and the sound of wind on Mars.
The other microphone is on SuperCam, a scientific instrument that fires a laser at rocks and creates a plasma cloud that can provide the chemical makeup of the rock.
“When we fire this laser on Earth, you can hear a pop or zap,” said Matt Wallace, deputy project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “The science team is hoping with a microphone on top of the mast, they can learn something about the composition of the things their laser is interacting with.”

SHERLOC goes to Mars

The rover’s robotic arm has 21st-century scientific abilities.
The Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry, better known as PIXL, is a tiny, powerful X-ray beam that can detect over 20 chemical elements by pointing a beam at rocks. The beam produces a telling glow associated with each element present in about 10 seconds.
Its partner is known as SHERLOC, short for the long-winded Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals.
SHERLOC can seek out organic molecules and minerals, which helps inform science teams of where to collect and cache samples. Its ultraviolet laser will provide a different glow depending on the organic molecules and minerals it detects.
“These two new capabilities will allow us to investigate a postage stamp-size area for elemental chemistry and organic molecules,” said Ken Farley, Perseverance’s project scientist at the California Institute of Technology. “So we can both make a map of this small area and take a microscopic image. It’s a compelling way to look for microbial biosignatures.”
SHERLOC also carries five different materials used to make spacesuits to test how radiation and elements on Mars could weather and affect them for future human explorers.
And where would SHERLOC be without WATSON, a camera that can take microscopic images of grains in rock and textures? WATSON stands for Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering.

A self-driving vehicle

Human rover teams at NASA will send Perseverance commands once a day, but the rover will rely on its advanced computer “brains” to help it drive autonomously the rest of the time.
Compared to previous rovers, Perseverance has the benefit of a second “brain” installed to help Perseverance land itself on Mars and avoid hazards that will be repurposed once it’s on the surface.
The “brain,” officially known as a vision compute element (VCE), will help it do something called “thinking while driving,” said Heather Justice, robotic operations downlink lead at JPL.
The rover will take images and build a map as it drives, identifying obstacles or slopes in the images and deciding what it can drive around or over to figure out a path forward.

It’s better than GPS

Perseverance will land on Mars using the new Terrain Relative Navigation system, which allows the lander to avoid any large hazards in the landing zone.
“In past missions, the landing zone needed to be like a parking lot,” totally clear of debris, said Andrew Johnson, the rover’s manager of the guidance navigation control system. But in the case of Perseverance, “you can place it in craters, steep slopes, rock fields.”
A sensor called the lander vision system takes pictures during the parachute descent stage. This matches up with the map provided by images taken from orbit, creating a guide that can identify craters, mountains and other landmarks.
The system provides safe target selection by using its map to rank landing sites for their safety. The lander can look for the safest place to land or even divert to a specific spot if it identifies a hazard. And all of the images collected during the landing stage will be sent to the team on Earth.
This system could later be used to land humans on the moon, as well as Mars.

This rover has MOXIE

Astronauts exploring Mars will need oxygen, but carting enough to sustain them on a spacecraft isn’t viable.
Perseverance will carry an apparatus called MOXIE, or the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, to convert Mars’ plentiful carbon dioxide into the oxygen astronauts will need to breathe. Oxygen will also be needed for fuel.
With MOXIE, “you don’t have to take an estimated 27 metric tons of oxygen to Mars” to get them home,” said Mike Hecht, principal investigator for MOXIE at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The small MOXIE experiment will switch on and convert carbon dioxide into oxygen for a couple of hours every month or two of the mission, using about a day’s worth of energy on the rover. It will only produce about 10 grams of oxygen an hour — enough for half of a person, Hecht said.
The MOXIE team will apply lessons learned for developing a larger and more powerful system for a manned mission.
“If a bunch of Mark Watneys are going to risk their lives, we better make sure it works,” Hecht said, citing the main character in the novel “The Martian” by Andy Weir.

Monitoring weather and environment

Understanding the weather and environment on Mars will be crucial for determining the conditions astronauts will face.
That’s why the rover has its own monitoring sytem. The Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer, called MEDA, is a suite of sensors on the rover to study weather science, dust and radiation, and how they change over Martian seasons.
The instrument will characterize the planet’s environment beyond weather — including variables like temperature, pressure and wind — and gain a better understanding of solar radiation on the surface, according to Manuel de la Torre Juarez, deputy principal investigator for MEDA. The instrument was contributed by a team from the Center for Astrobiology in Madrid.
The temperature on Mars can vary by as much as 80 or 90 degrees between day and night. Understanding radiation from the surface will tell scientists how much the sun heats the air, which causes wind and temperature changes. They could also understand more about the water cycle of Mars.

Peeking beneath the surface

For the first time, a surface mission will include a ground-penetrating radar instrument called RIMFAX, or Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment. It will be able to peek beneath the surface and study Martian geology, looking for rock, ice and boulder layers.
Scientists hope that RIMFAX will help them understand the geologic history of Jezero Crater, according to David Paige, principal investigator for the experiment at the University of California, Los Angeles.
In the future, RIMFAX, or a version of it, could be used by astronauts to find water beneath the surface.
“One of the most useful things we can find is ice below the surface,” Paige said. “It would probably be included in future landers and rovers or airborne vehicles in searching for resources.”
Together, the suite of instruments and experiments on Perseverance will add more pieces to complete the puzzle of Mars.
“Rover missions are designed as situation comedies with an ensemble cast,” Paige said. “Each member has a specific role that contributes to the overall science and addresses a certain subset of questions. Our main goal is, ‘Thank goodness we brought a RIMFAX with us.'”

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Perseverance Voyage

Say “Bon Voyage” to our Mars Perseverance Rover! – NASA


Say “Bon Voyage” to our Mars Perseverance Rover! – YouTube

































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launch Perseverance

Join NASA for the Launch of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover – NASA Mars Exploration


No matter where you live, choose from a menu of activities to join NASA as we “Countdown to Mars” and launch the Perseverance rover to the Red Planet.


Team with NASA to send off the Perseverance rover to Mars – from the convenience of your own home. The mission launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida, this summer, and you’re invited to participate remotely – with a global, collective launch countdown where you can submit your own videos, take a photo on Mars or next to the rover, dive into an interactive launch packet, and sign up to send your name to Mars on a future space mission.

After a seven-month journey to the Red Planet, the rover will land in Jezero Crater, an ancient lakebed with intriguing geology. In its search for astrobiological evidence of ancient microbial life, Perseverance will gather rock and soil samples there for future return to Earth. It will also characterize the planet’s climate and geology and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

In addition, Perseverance carries the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, a technology demonstration that marks the first attempt at powered, controlled flight on another planet.

“During these challenging times, no matter where you are, you can participate in this launch and help send this robotic geologist on a mission to explore worlds beyond our own,” said Michael Greene, the director for communications and education at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission.

With local restrictions on public gatherings in place, NASA recommends watching the launch virtually. To learn how, use our launch toolkit. And here’s a menu of options for sharing in the Perseverance launch:

CountdownToMars

You know that “5-4-3-2-1” right before a spacecraft blasts off? You can record your own version of a launch countdown video clip and tag it on social media using #CountdownToMars. Your clip may be featured on NASA social media or even on launch day. Here’s how to participate.

Send Your Name to Mars, Again!

Perseverance carries three dime-size chips with 10.9 million names submitted worldwide to travel aboard the rover. The people who already signed up can get a special “Now Boarding” stamp and are ready for launch. If you missed that opportunity, you can soon sign up to send your name on a future mission to Mars.

Mars Photo Booth

While sharing the Mars Launch at Home virtually, take a souvenir photo with our virtual Mars Photo Booth. You can pose next to the mighty Atlas V rocket that will launch the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, strike a pose on Mars, or put yourself next to the rover in the JPL clean room where it was assembled. Just upload your favorite picture, choose a background, and download the new image.

Virtual Launch Packet

Get an interactive magazine-style booklet to enhance your launch-viewing experience. The flipbook includes information about the Perseverance rover launch and all the print products for the mission. You can also download it as a PDF.

Spacecraft 3D Rover Experience

Zoom in, rotate, and twirl around the Perseverance rover in an interactive 3D experience. Click and select different sections to learn all about the science tools and instruments that make up this mighty rover.

Watch the Launch and Share Your Excitement

Watch the mission briefings and other Mars 2020 programming on NASA TV, culminating with the launch on July 30. See the schedule for Perseverance programming.

How to stream NASA TV.

Stay connected with the mission on social media, and let people know you’re following it on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #CountdownToMars. Follow and tag these accounts:

Twitter: @NASA, @NASAPersevere, @NASAMars

Facebook: NASA, NASAPersevere

Instagram: NASA

Perseverance videos will be posted to the NASA JPL YouTube channel and NASA YouTube channel.

You can also sign up for the Mars newsletter to stay informed about all the ways to experience this launch.

However you choose to participate in the Mars Launch at Home, we look forward to seeing you online for launch, which is targeted for July 30: The time in which the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission can launch extends to Aug. 15. Check out this page for the latest launch date and time. Doing a Mars Launch from Home may burn up some energy. Perseverance pancakes, anyone?

More information about the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is on this mission website.

News Media Contacts

DC Agle


Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.


818-393-9011


agle@jpl.nasa.gov

Grey Hautaluoma / Alana Johnson


NASA Headquarters, Washington


202-358-0668 / 202-358-1501


grey.hautaluoma-1@nasa.gov / alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

– Written by Jane Platt

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NASA's Perseverance

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Attached to Atlas V Rocket – NASA

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Attached to Atlas V Rocket – NASA
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NASA's Perseverance

NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover Sample Caching System – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory











Published on 2 Jun 2020

Watch as NASA-JPL engineers test the Sample Caching System on the Perseverance Mars rover. Described as one of the most complex robotic systems ever built, the Sample and Caching System will collect core samples from the rocky surface of Mars, seal them in tubes and leave them for a future mission to retrieve and bring back to Earth.

The team is on track to launch Perseverance in July 2020 and land in Mars’ Jezero Crater in February 2021. For more information on the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission, please go to:

https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

Credit: NASA-JPL/Caltech

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