NASA has announced another delay for the launch of its Mars-bound Perseverance rover. In a message posted on the rover's Twitter account on Tuesday, June 30, the space agency said that delays in processing the rover with the United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket were starting efforts Cape Canaveral in Florida would now take place no earlier than July 30th.
Due to delays in processing preparations to unite with the rocket, my first attempt to launch will not be earlier than July 30th. @NASA and @ulalaunch are working to update the planned start date and have extended the start period to August. 15. https://t.co/cwfwy5cTY0 pic.twitter.com/XICMjwtx7h
– NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) June 30, 2020
NASA said in a message on its website that a liquid oxygen sensor line during a sample showed unexpected data for launch. Therefore, the team needs additional time to investigate the problem. During such a rehearsal, the rocket is loaded with propellants on the launch pad. The team then performs a countdown to confirm that all missile systems are working properly.
NASA added that it had managed to extend the end of the launch window from August 11th to August 15th, and considered the possibility of another extension to help deal with further delays.
This is the third delay in the highly anticipated Mars 2020 mission in the past three weeks.
The first postponed the launch date from July 17 to July 20 because additional time was required to carry out repairs on some floor system devices. Then, last week, a contamination problem prompted the team to postpone the launch date to July 22nd.
On the ambitious mission, Perseverance will explore the red planet based on signs of old life. The six-wheel vehicle, which was put through its paces before the start, will also collect rock and soil samples that could be brought to Earth for scientific investigation.
Perseverance includes the Ingenuity Mars helicopter, the first aircraft to fly on another planet. Camera-equipped Ingenuity will help NASA search for potentially useful research sites on the Martian surface and collect data to map routes for future Mars rovers.
Assuming NASA can launch the mission from its target window, endurance and ingenuity will reach Mars sometime in February 2021.