NASA delays the launch of its Mars-bound Perseverance rover by three days.
The space agency announced on Thursday that it had chosen July 20 as the new launch date and deleted the original July 17. Assuming no further changes have been made, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket will take off with the rover at 9:15 a.m. from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
NASA said it was asked to postpone the Mars mission because additional time would be required to repair some ground system devices. The space agency announced no further details, but ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno, whose Atlas V rocket will transport Perseverance, later tweeted that the problem was with a crane, adding that everything is now fine.
The mission's launch window runs through August 11, so the three-day delay in the team is unlikely to raise concerns.
The news of the delay came via a tweet from the rover's personal Twitter account:
My start to Mars is now scheduled for July 20. The @ ulalaunch team was given more time to repair floor system equipment. The launch on a # AtlV rocket is set to 6:15 p.m. PT (9:15 a.m. ET, 1315 UTC) https://t.co/O9TWWbGfFi pic.twitter.com/dcJfYjDb80
– NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) June 11, 2020
The highly anticipated Mars 2020 mission will include endurance exploring the surface of Mars for signs of old life. The six-wheel machine, which was thoroughly tested before its Mars expedition, will also collect rock and soil samples for a possible return to Earth.
The Mars helicopter will join Perseverance on its adventure and, provided everything goes according to plan, will be the first aircraft to fly on another planet. The Mars helicopter will help NASA find potentially useful research sites on the surface of Mars and collect data to map routes for future Mars rovers.
Space fans can certainly be very happy, but patience is required. Endurance and the Mars helicopter will only reach the planet in February 2021.