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NASA — Mars Perseverance rover set for launch on Thursday

Posted Jul 29, 2020 by Karen Graham
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket, carrying NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter, arrived at the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on July 28, 2020.
The Launch Readiness Review has completed for the launch of @NASAPersevere to the Red Planet and we ...
The Launch Readiness Review has completed for the launch of @NASAPersevere to the Red Planet and we are GO for launch!
Kennedy Space Center
The launch is scheduled to take place at 7:50 a.m. ET tomorrow. The car-sized rover is designed to study the geology and climate of Mars. NASA says the mission and its subsequent discoveries could lay the groundwork for eventual human exploration of the Red Planet.
Not only is Perseverance loaded with scientific instruments, but the six-wheel rover is also carrying a small helicopter, dubbed Ingenuity. Ingenuity will perform some experimental test flights in the planet's thin atmosphere, and if it works, it will mark a milestone in powered flight.
"For the first time ever, we're going to fly a helicopter on another planet," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Monday in a news briefing, adding that future missions to other worlds could use similar helicopters as airborne scouts.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover onboard is seen a...
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover onboard is seen as it is rolled out of the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41, Tuesday, July 28, 2020, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Perseverance rover is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the Red Planet. Launch is scheduled for Thursday, July 30.
NASA/Joel Kowsky
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, space enthusiasts are encouraged to stay home and participate virtually, instead — particularly as new infections continue to surge in Florida and across the country. The launch will be broadcast live on NASA TV.
NASA has a narrow 20-day launch window during which the orbits of Earth and Mars are aligned for launch. Should the mission be delayed beyond those 20 days, because of the pandemic or for other reasons, it would mean a wait of two years before the next opportunity for launch.
Where is Perseverance going to land?
The site chosen for the landing on Mars is called Jezero Crater, located in the Syrtis Major quadrangle. The crater is thought to have been flooded with water in the past and was possibly home to an ancient river delta. It is about 49 kilometers (30.4 miles) in diameter.
Jezero crater (lower right) and region seen from the Viking 1 Orbiter. Image dated June 5  1998.
Jezero crater (lower right) and region seen from the Viking 1 Orbiter. Image dated June 5, 1998.
NASA
The ancient lake was discovered in 2007and was given the name Jezero. In several Slavic languages, including Czech, Bosnian, Slovak, Croatian, Serbian and Slovene, the word jezero means "lake."
According to NASA, Jezero crater tells a story of the on-again, off-again nature of the wet past of Mars. More than 3.5 billion years ago, river channels spilled over the crater wall and created a lake. Scientists see evidence that water carried clay minerals from the surrounding area into the crater lake.
Conceivably, microbial life could have lived in Jezero during one or more of these wet times. If so, signs of their remains might be found in lakebed or shoreline sediments.
Attached to the Perseverance Mars rover  an aluminum plate commemorates the impact of the COVID-19 p...
Attached to the Perseverance Mars rover, an aluminum plate commemorates the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and pays tribute to the perseverance of health care workers around the world.
NASA/JPL-Caltech
Commemorative plate on rover
Members of NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission installed a plate on the left side of the rover chassis, commemorating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and paying tribute to the perseverance of healthcare workers around the world.
Made of aluminum, the 3-by-5-inch (8-by-13-centimeter) plaque was attached to the rover in May 2020 during final assembly at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.