Nasa Mars mission is a ‘go’ and weather looks positive to launch Perseverance rover this week, officials say

Nasa is ready to launch its mission to Mars this week, the space agency has said.

It has conducted its review ahead of the planned launch on Thursday, it announced, meaning that it everything is still in place to go on schedule.

“The Launch Readiness Review has concluded and the team remains a GO for launch for @NASAPersevere!” Mr Bridenstine wrote on Twitter, linking out to a Nasa article describing how to watch the launch from home.

The official forecast also makes clear that the launch is likely to go ahead as scheduled on Thursday.

The chance of weather that gets in the way of the launch is put at 20 per cent, official forecasts suggest. The primary concerns are about clouds that could prevent the rocket from taking off safely.

Nasa has scheduled the launch for 7.50am local eastern time on Thursday.

Unlike some other recent launches – such as the first launch of astronauts from US soil in nearly a decade, which happened in a SpaceX ship last month – the launch has a wide window to allow for mission controllers to wait for any unfavourable conditions to pass. There will be two hours during which the rocket can set off, ending at 9.50am local eastern time.

The mission is set to liftoff on 30 July from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

It will be carried on the Atlas V rocket, which is operated by United Launch Alliance, a collaboration between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

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The mission will carry the Perseverance rover, which is scheduled to land on the surface in February 2021. When it does, it will look for signs of both habitable conditions in the past – as well as any evidence of ancient life that may once have been present on the red planet.

If the launch is able to happen during the current window, it will have to be pushed back by more than two years, to wait for the next opportunity when the planets will align to allow for a launch.



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