NASA is celebrating the launch of its most advanced Mars Rover reported today (July 30), even as engineers tackle a glitch that left the spacecraft in a protective “safe mode” immediately after liftoff.
The mars 2020 Fortitude Rover The Atlas V rocket in space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida departed towards the Red Planet at 7:50 pm EDT (1150 GMT). NASA officials said the rover experienced minor communications and temperature disturbances after the launch, but the issue is not expected to damage the mission.
“it was an Amazing launch, At the right time, “NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein said during the post-launch news conference. I think we’re in great shape. It was a great day for NASA.”
live update: NASA’s Mars Rover Fixture Launched in Real-Time!
Soon after the conference, NASA confirmed that the persistence slipped into “safe mode” due to an unexpected temperature difference.
NASA data said in a statement, “The data indicated that the spacecraft was known to be in a safe state, possibly because a part of the spacecraft was slightly colder than expected.” “All temperatures are now nominal and the spacecraft is out of the Earth’s shadow.”
related: NASA’s Mars Fortitude Rover for Red Planet (Photos)
Hiccups after launch
During today’s post-launch news conference, the team received word that an issue, a sluggish communication issue, had been fixed. Within the first few hours after launch, although mission personnel could send signals that the spacecraft was sending home, it was not being processed correctly.
However, that situation was not much of a concern, Matt Wallace, deputy project manager for Mars 2020 NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, said during the briefing. Misconceptions arose due to the fact that NASA relies on a system called the Deep Space Network to communicate with persistence even immediately after launch, when the spacecraft is not yet so deep into space.
And because Deep space network Made up of large-scale antennas equipped with super sensitive receivers, the spacecraft so close to the network can destroy the signal system, as if someone is screaming directly into your ear. Engineers were required to tweak network settings to actually process information coming from spacecraft.
“As the administrator was speaking, I just received a text saying that we were able to lock on that telemetry,” Wallace said. “All the signs that we have – and we have very few – the spacecraft is fine.”
NASA’s Curiosity Rover It faced a similar issue during its launch in 2011, Wallace said. “It’s something we’ve seen before with other Mars missions,” Bridenstein said. “It’s not uncommon. Everything is going according to plan.”
The mission team revealed a second launch-launch hiccup sometime at the news conference: Persistence went into safe mode.
When the spacecraft cooled slightly below Earth’s shadow, according to NASA’s statement, it was automatically put into that position, although the temperature of the spacecraft quickly bounced back and not concerning the team Was.
Wallace emphasized that such a situation should not harm the mission. Safe Mode is, as the name suggests, designed to be safe for spacecraft right now.
“The spacecraft is happy there,” Wallace said. “The team is working through that telemetry, they’re going to look at the health of the rest of the spacecraft. So far, everything I’ve seen looks good.”
Firmly is scheduled to fly straight and steady for the next two weeks, anyway, he said, and so the team has time before the spacecraft is returned to normal operating mode First required trajectory adjustment About its journey.
A grand launch
The launch itself went smoothly with an unusually quiet countdown in the mission control room, despite an earthquake in southern California, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, about 20 minutes before the rocket fired in Florida.
Today’s liftoff marked a significant victory for the agency, which was concerned that measures taken to reduce the spread Coronavirus epidemic Slow launch preparations may be sufficient to strongly miss its three-week window for launch, dependent on the orbital trajectory.
Another comparable opportunity will not come again until 2022; If there was a delay of 26 months, it would cost the agency an additional $ 500 million, according to Bridenstein, on top of an already difficult mission.
“[It was] Adversity all the way, but it is true for any project of this nature, ”Bridenstein said of conflicts before the epidemic, including a broken heat shield and late addition to a complex Helicopter with ride. “Then you lay on top of that coronovirus … I’m not going to lie, it’s a challenge. It’s very stressful. But look, the teams have done that.”
But, despite earlier delays that pushed the launch into its window for more than a week, the spacecraft exploded during the first shot of its countdown.
“It was really a team effort. And in every single case, everyone stood up and said, ‘Yes, we want to do what we can to help,'” said Lori Glaze, director of the agency’s planetary science department. “Somehow, we made it through it.”
Now, the spacecraft on Earth and its human team need to make it through a seven-month journey into deep space to reach the Red Planet. Once the spacecraft arrives on Mars, it must pass Notoriously dangerous process Entrance, descent and landing.
This process will come to light on 18 February 2021.
Email Meghan Bartels at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @meaganbartels. Follow us @Spacedotcom on Twitter and on Facebook.