NASA gets Perseverance Mars rover ready to fly

Amid the pandemic, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission, scheduled to launch on July 30, has cleared its Flight Readiness Review which is an important milestone on its way to the launch pad.

With all the connections between the spacecraft and Atlas V launch vehicle complete, the majority of business remaining for Mars 2020’s Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations (ATLO) team involves checking out every one of the multitude of systems and subsystems onboard the rover, aeroshell, cruise stage, and descent stage, NASA said on Wednesday.

“This mission is emblematic of our nation’s spirit of meeting problems head-on and finding solutions together,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, said in a statement.

“The incredible science Perseverance will enable and the bold human missions it will help make possible are going to be inspirations for us all.”

The spacecraft and launch teams have one more major review to complete.

Scheduled on July 27, the ‘Launch Readiness Review’ is the last significant checkup before the mission receives final approval to proceed with launch.

The Perseverance rover’s astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life.

It will also characterise the planet’s climate and geology, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first planetary mission to collect and cache selected samples of Martian rock and regolith — broken rock and dust.

Subsequent missions, currently under consideration by NASA in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.