NASA successfully launched its Perseverance rover on its journey to Mars, where it is scheduled to land in Jezero crater on February 18, 2021.
The rover was launched on Thursday, July 30, at 7:50 a.m.CET on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
How the start went
The Perseverance Rover will launch on July 30, 2020 on an Atlas V rocket. NASA TV
45 seconds after launch, the missile hit max q (the point of flight at which the vehicle reached the maximum dynamic pressure). About two minutes after the launch, the solid rocket boosters were no longer needed and were dropped.
A minute and a half later, the payload fairing or nose cone that protected the Perseverance rover during takeoff was no longer needed. The fairing split in half and was allowed to fall off the missile.
About four and a half minutes after the launch of the rocket approached the edge of the Earth's atmosphere, the main amplifier was also dropped. This allowed the Centaur engine to start its first combustion and put the vehicle into orbit.
This was followed by a 30-minute rollout after the first fire, after which a second engine fire pushed the rover out of orbit and aimed at Mars.
About an hour after launch, the spacecraft successfully separated from the rocket.
Now the NASA team has to wait for the signal acquisition when the ground control receives the first messages from the vehicle.
About the rover
Engineers observe the first test drive for NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover on December 17, 2019 in a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. NASA / JPL-Caltech
The main goal of the Perseverance Rover is to look for signs that life once existed on Mars. Scientists know that millions of years ago Mars had considerable liquid water on its surface and was in many ways similar to Earth and could possibly have been home to life.
The Perseverance rover will join NASA's curiosity rover and the InSight lander on Mars, but will explore another area of the planet, the Jezero crater.
This crater is of particular interest because it is an old lake that has long since dried up. If there were ever microbial life on Mars, this would be the ideal place to find evidence of it.
In addition, the on-board rover is conducting an experiment called MOXIE to generate oxygen from carbon dioxide to pave the way for human exploration of the planet.
The rover is also accompanied by Ingenuity, a small helicopter that will be the first to fly heavier than an aircraft on another planet. If successful, the door will open to a completely new approach to exploring Mars in future missions from the air.
Updated June 30: Added second combustion and spacecraft separation information.