Humanity’s obsession with launching bits of Earth into space continued this week with the launch of the Mars rover, Perseverance, on Thursday.
The rover launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard the Mars 2020 spacecraft powered by a ULA Atlas V rocket destined to land on Mars on 18th February 2021.
“With the launch of Perseverance, we begin another historic mission of exploration,” NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.
“This amazing explorer’s journey has already required the very best from all of us to get it to launch through these challenging times. Now we can look forward to its incredible science and to bringing samples of Mars home even as we advance human missions to the Red Planet. As a mission, as an agency, and as a country, we will persevere,” the administrator added.
But it appears as if Perseverance has already encountered an issue of sorts.
A few hours after launch Mars 2020 sent its first signal to ground controllers via the NASA Deep Space Network, but at that stage telemetry had not been acquired.
Roughly two hours later Mars 2020 sent a signal that did contain telemetry and it revealed that Perseverance had mashed F8 and entered safe mode.
According to NASA this is normal and a spacecraft enters safe mode when it detects conditions are not within nominal parameters.
“When a spacecraft enters safe mode, all but essential systems are turned off until it receives new commands from mission control,” explained NASA.
“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,” the organisation added.
Perseverance reportedly entered safe mode because it was colder than expected as Mars 2020 made its way through Earth’s shadow.
“All temperatures are now nominal and the spacecraft is out of Earth’s shadow,” NASA said.
If you missed the launch on Thursday you can watch the highlights of the launch below. For those who would prefer to watch the two and a half hour launch in its entirety, click here.
[Source – NASA][Image – United Launch Alliance]