NASA's Mars rover launches successfully

NASA’s Mars Bound Spaceship Carrying Perseverance Rover Faces Technical Issues

Humanity's most sophisticated rover launched with the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at 750 am EDT (450 am PDT) Thursday on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The launch was not without a minor glitch.

JPL mission controllers established their first communication signal with the spacecraft some 90 minutes after lift-off, prompting applause and cheers in the California control room. The issue was quickly resolved.

"Perseverance is the most capable rover in history because it is standing on the shoulders of our pioneers Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity", said Michael Watkins, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. "Everything's fine, and we're on our way to Mars". "Scientists have wanted a sample of Mars to study for generations". Water is considered a key ingredient for life, and Mars billions of years ago had lots of it on the surface before the planet became a harsh and desolate outpost.


US Vice President Mike Pence wrote on Twitter: "Today is a great day for American leadership in space!"

NASA has sent its Perseverance rover to collect samples, search for signs of past microbial life and even unleash an experimental helicopter.

Aboard the rover are the Sample Caching System and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, a technology demonstrator that will perform up to five controlled flights. The thin Martian atmosphere - 99% less dense than Earth's - poses a challenge to Ingenuity, which was created to be light, with rotor blades that are larger and spin more quickly than needed for a helicopter of its mass on Earth. A NASA-provided payload on the orbiter would provide the capabilities needed to capture and contain the samples, placing them in an Earth entry vehicle that would land the samples safely on US soil. Perseverance also features seven instruments, including the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment or MOXIE, which seeks to demonstrate the ability to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. 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 program.

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