Today’s final critical milestone — acquisition of signal — has been achieved. In essence, Perseverance has phoned home to let us know it’s officially on the way to Mars.
“This signifies that JPL’s (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) deep space network has locked on to the spacecraft, which is on its journey to Mars,” said NASA Launch Director Omar Baez, from the agency’s Launch Services Program. “Everything appears to be going nominally. Today’s count went beautifully.”
Perseverance has quite the trip ahead. It will reach Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, touching down on the surface of Jezero Crater. The rover will search for signs of past microbial life and help scientists better understand the geology and climate of the Red Planet.
NASA Television and the agency’s website will broadcast a post-launch news conference, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Participants include NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine; NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen; Lori Glaze, Planetary Science Division director, NASA HQ; Matt Wallace, deputy project manager, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Omar Baez, launch director, NASA’s Launch Services Program; and Tory Bruno, United Launch Alliance CEO. We will provide a wrapup from that news conference here, at blogs.nasa.gov/Mars2020.