NASA prepares for Mars 2020 mission launch

Katie Ramirez
July 30, 2020

The Perseverance will follow China's rover-orbiter combo and a United Arab Emirates orbiter, both launched last week.

'Tis the season to be launching spacecraft to Mars, as the Hohmann transfer orbit is wide open, albeit for a limited time (the window won't open again for another 26 months).

Specific instruments on the latest Mars rover using IR HiRel semiconductors include the Mastcam-Z, a mast-mounted HD imaging camera system with panoramic, stereoscopic and zoom capabilities as well as SuperCam, which combines a camera, laser and spectrometers searching for organic compounds potentially related to past life on Mars.

© Provided by CBS News A full size model of the Perseverance rover on display at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 28, 2020.

Perseverance is slated to scrounge for evidence of past microscopic life in an ancient lakebed. NASA is teaming up with the European Space Agency to return the samples to Earth around 2031. The $2.4 billion spacecraft will hit the top of the Martian atmosphere at more than 12,000 miles per hour and then come to a complete stop seven minutes later. And I think that's the question that we all wonder every day, every night is like are we alone in this huge universe or could there be other life out there that we just don't know about yet?

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The mission is timed for a launch opportunity in July 2020 when Earth and Mars are in good positions relative to each other for landing on Mars.

"This is the ninth time we've landed on Mars, so we do have experience with it", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

"This rocket is going to leap off the pad with this relatively tiny payload, so do not blink when they say 'ignition, '" said Tory Bruno, president and CEO of United Launch Alliance, which built the Atlas 5.

"We are literally chomping at the bit to take this nuclear-powered dune buggy out to Mars", he said earlier this week.

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