NASA celebrates the launch of its most advanced Mars Rover sometime today (July 30), even as engineers solve a problem that left the spacecraft in protective “safe mode” shortly after takeoff.
Mars 2020 Persistence rover launched to the Red Planet at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT), launching an Atlas V rocket into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rover suffered minor communication and temperature disruptions after launch, but the problems are not expected to harm the mission as a whole, NASA officials said.
“It was amazing run“Just in time,”; NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein told a news conference after the launch. “I think we’re in great shape. It’s been a great day for NASA.”
Current updates: Mars rover NASA Mars Perseverance launches in real time!
Shortly after the conference, NASA confirmed that the persistence had gone into “safe mode” due to an unexpected temperature difference.
“Evidence suggests that the spacecraft went into a state known as safe mode, probably because part of the spacecraft was slightly colder than expected while Mars 2020 was in the shadow of Earth,” NASA officials said. “Now all temperatures are nominal, and the spacecraft came out of the shadow of the Earth.”
Related: Mars NASA Mars Perseverance to the Red Planet (photos)
After guitar hiccups
During today’s post-launch press conference, the team received a message that one problem, a protracted communication problem, had been fixed. For the first few hours after launch, although mission personnel were able to receive the signal the spacecraft was sending home, it was not handled properly.
However, this situation did not cause much concern, Matt Wallace, Deputy Project Manager for Mars 2020 NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, said during a briefing. The miscommunication was caused by NASA relying on a system called the Deep Space Network to communicate with persistence even shortly after launch, when the spacecraft was not yet so deep in space.
And because Deep space network Consisting of massive antennas equipped with supersensitive receivers, a signal from a spaceship so close to the network can end up blowing up the system as someone shouts right into your ear. Engineers needed to configure network settings to actually process information coming from the spacecraft.
“Just like the administrator said, I just received a text that we were able to capture in this telemetry,” Wallace said. “All the guidance we have – and we have a lot of them – is that the spacecraft is just wonderful.”
NASA Curiosity Rover faced a similar problem during its launch in 2011, Wallace said. “It’s something we’ve seen before with other missions on Mars,” Bridenstein said. “It’s not unusual. Everything goes according to plan.”
The mission team found a second hiccup after launching shortly after the press conference: Perseverance went into safe mode.
When the spacecraft became a little colder than expected as it passed through the Earth’s shadow, it automatically went into that state, according to a NASA statement, although the spacecraft’s temperature bounced quickly and did not affect the team.
Wallace stressed that such a status should not harm the mission as a whole. Safe mode, as the name implies, is designed to be safe for the spacecraft that is now.
“The spaceship is happy there,” Wallace said. “The team is working on that telemetry, they’re going to monitor the rest of the spacecraft’s health. So far, everything I’ve seen looks good.”
Persistence is planned to fly straight and steady for at least the next two weeks, one way or another, he said, the team has time to return the spacecraft to normal operation before The first necessary adjustment of the trajectory his journey.
The launch itself went smoothly, with an unusually quiet countdown in the mission’s offices, despite an earthquake that shook southern California, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, about 20 minutes before the rocket fired in Florida.
Today’s life was marked by an important victory for the agency, which felt that measures had been taken to reduce the spread coronavirus pandemic may delay preparation for launch sufficiently for persistence to miss a three-week launch window that depends on orbital trajectories.
Another comparable possibility will not appear again until 2022; if this 26-month delay had occurred, it would have cost the agency an additional $ 500 million, according to Bridenstein, in addition to the already difficult mission.
“[It was] troubles all the way, but that’s true for any project of this nature, “Bridenstein said of the fight against the pandemic, which included a cracked heat shield and the late addition of a complex to ride a helicopter. “Then you put a coronavirus on it … I’m not going to lie, it’s a challenge. It’s very tense. But look, the teams did it.”
But despite earlier delays that pushed the launch into its window for more than a week, the spacecraft exploded during the first shot of the first countdown.
“It was really a team effort. And on a case-by-case basis, everyone stood up and said, ‘Yes, we want to do everything we can to help,'” said Lori Glaz, director of the agency’s planetary science department.
Now the spaceship and its human team returning to Earth must go through a seven-month journey into deep space to reach the Red Planet. Once the spacecraft arrives on Mars, it will pass sadly dangerous process entry, descent and landing.
This process will unfold on February 18, 2021.
Email Meghan Bartels to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.