Nuclear Powered Dune Buggy Perseverance Rover Ready for Red Planet Blastoff July 30

ULA Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover stands tall inside the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, FL. The Atlas V 541 rocket will liftoff on Thursday, July 30. The two-hour window opens at 7:50 a.m. EDT. Credit: ULA

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL –  NASA and rocket partner United Launch Alliance (ULA) have given the GO to proceed with final launch preparations for the agency’s $2.7 Billion Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover following a successful conclusion to the Launch Readiness Review (LRR) held this morning at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. The goal is to search for signs of past microbial life.

At T Minus 3 days “everything is GO for launch” of the nuclear powered Red Planet rover now targeted for Thursday morning July 30 from the Florida Space Coast.

And the Sunshine State weather looks like it will cooperate – with an 80% chance of acceptable conditions for launch – at this time.

“The launch readiness review is complete and we are indeed ‘go’ for launch,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced during the prelaunch press conference this morning  the  Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “This has been an amazing team effort.”

 

The car-sized Perseverance Mars 2020 rover is targeted for liftoff on NET 30 July 2020 at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT) aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

In a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The approximately overall month-long launch window for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission currently extends until August 15.

“We are literally chomping at the bit to take this nuclear powered dune buggy out to Mars,” said ULA CEO Tory Bruno at the KSC briefing.

“The ULA and NASA Launch Readiness Review is complete and everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V launch carrying the Mars 2020 mission for NASA,” said ULA.

You can watch the launch live on NASA TV.

NASA TV launch coverage begins at 7 a.m. ET July 30

 

Today’s forecast shows an 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.

The two-hour launch window on Thursday July 30 extends until 9:50 a.m. EDT.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron is predicting an 80% chance of favorable weather conditions for Thursday’s launch.

The primary weather concerns are cumulus and thick clouds.

In case of a delay the weather odds rise to 90% GO for a 24 hour delay to Friday and return 80% GO for a 48 hour delay to Saturday.

The nose cone containing NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is maneuvered into place atop its Atlas V rocket. The image was taken at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 7, 2020. Credits: NASA/KSC

The next big event leading to launch will be rollout of the powerful and venerable ULA Atlas V rocket at Space Launch Complex-41 Tuesday morning July 28 starting around 10 a,m. ET from the 30 story tall Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) to the launch pad.

I will be on site nearby pad 41 for live eyewitness  coverage

But it has been a struggle for the NASA, JPL and ULA team to get to the launch of this historic mission even more then normal due to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic

Listen to these comments from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine:

“We are in extraordinary times right now with the coronavirus pandemic, and yet we have, in fact, persevered,” Bridenstine said. “And we have protected this mission because it is so impor

The historic mission has remained on track, despite unprecedented challenges from a worldwide pandemic.

The rover’s astrobiology mission, developed under NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, will search for signs of past microbial life.

“We’re doing transformative science; really for the first time, we’re looking for signs of life on another planet,” said Matt Wallace, deputy project manager, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The Perseverance Mars 2020 mission will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize Mars’ climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will store rock and soil samples in sealed tubes on the planet’s surface for future missions to retrieve, as seen in this illustration. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Ingenuity, a twin-rotor, solar-powered helicopter attached to the belly of the rover, will become the first aircraft to fly on another world.

“I just couldn’t be happier to be here today and have this amazing mission on top of a rocket and ready to go,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, at the briefing.

“From this launch readiness review … all the issues are addressed and we are in fact ready now; we’re just counting down and really celebrating with the team.”

After a seven month long interplanetary journey she is scheduled to touch down in an area of Mars known as Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021. The 28-mile-wide (45-kilometer) crater is home to an ancient dried-up river delta and a lake that once filled it.

Perseverance is a robotic scientist weighing about 2,260 pounds (1,025 kilograms).

The rover is equipped with seven different scientific instruments and 25 cameras.

Earlier this month NASA’s $2.7 Billion Perseverance Mars rover was at last joined to the top of the mighty United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket that will hurl it from our Home Planet to the Red Planet as soon as the end of this month – on a breathtaking mission dedicated to the search for signs of life beyond Earth.

And just days ago last week the rovers nuclear power source known as the MMRTG was installed.

The MMRTG is basically the life blood of the Perseverance rover

The MMRTG nuclear power source battery like the one that will power Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is seen at center in this Curiosity Mars rover mosaic stitched from Navcam raw images by Ken Kremer and Marco Di Lorenzo. Curiosity snaps a dramatic selfie at the ‘Torridon’ quadrangle while making long stretches of wheel tracks exploring assorted rock layers, bedrock outcrops and mineral exposures around Vera Rubin Ridge with an exquisitely sharp view of the distant rim of the Gale Crater landing site visible in the background on the Red Planet. This navcam camera mosaic was stitched and colorized by Ken Kremer and Marco Di Lorenzo using raw images taken on Sol 1896, Dec. 6, 2017. Credit: NASA/JPL/Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/Marco Di Lorenzo/SpaceUpClose.com

The MMRTG is essentially a nuclear battery that uses the heat from the natural radioactive decay of plutonium-238 to generate about 110 watts of electricity at the start of a mission – and  slowly declines over time.

The electricity for NASA’s Mars 2020 Persererance rover is provided by a power system called a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, or MMRTG. Essentially a nuclear battery, an MMRTG uses the heat from the natural radioactive decay of plutonium-238 to generate about 110 watts of electricity at the start of a mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech

 

The Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.

 

The electricity needed to operate NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is provided by a power system called a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, or MMRTG. The MMRTG will be inserted into the aft end of the rover between the panels with gold tubing visible at the rear, which are called heat exchangers. Essentially a nuclear battery, an MMRTG uses the heat from the natural radioactive decay of plutonium-238 to generate about 110 watts of electricity at the start of a mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech

Watch my commentary about all the Mars 2020 missions Perseverance, Hope and Tianwen-1 missions including my Mars rover mosaics and outreach during an interview with WKMG CBS 6 Orlando TV news on July 23:

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/2020/07/23/nasa-is-prepared-for-the-risks-of-launching-nuclear-powered-rover/

 

 

Watch my live prelaunch commentary today July 27 and prior post ULA Atlas V WDR  interview about Mars 2020 rover and more  at the American Space Museum ‘Stay Curious’ daily weekday show on June 22, 2020

July 27

Two space scientists talk Mars, Dr. Ken Kremer and Astronomer Derek Demeter

Get the latest on the Mars Rover to launch Thursday morning from rocket photographer Dr. Ken Kremer, and planetarium director Derek Demeter. Ken has a website, www.spaceupclose.com, and Derek is the stargazer at Emil Buehler Planetarium at Seminole State College in Sanford, Fla. “Stay Curious” and learn about Mars!

Posted by American Space Museum & Space Walk of Fame on Monday, July 27, 2020

 

 

June 22

Space Journalist Dr. Ken Kremer joins "Stay Curious"

Update on Artemis to the Moon with space journalist/photographer Dr. Ken Kremer to help you "Stay Curious."

Posted by American Space Museum & Space Walk of Fame on Monday, June 22, 2020

Watch my earlier commentary about the impact of the launch delays at Fox 35 TV News Orlando on July 3:

https://www.fox35orlando.com/video/736211

 

 

 

Watch my July 2 interview on Pressing For Flight about Mars 2020, COVID-19, Artemis, SpaceX GPS/.Starlink and more:

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Mars 2020, Commercial Crew and Artemis for live reporting of upcoming and recent NASA, ULA and SpaceX launches including Crew-1, Demo-2, Starlink, X-37B, Solar Orbiter and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Ken has created hundreds of widely published Mars rover mosaics and lectures also about NASA’s Mars rovers

Ken’s upcoming outreach events:

Jul 28, 29 – 7 PM: Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, FL. “NASA/ULA Atlas V Mars 2020 rover and SpaceX Crew-1, Demo-2, GPS, Starlink, Anasis-II and more launches.” Free. In hotel lobby. Photos for sale

The nose cone containing NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is maneuvered into place atop its Atlas V rocket. The image was taken at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 7, 2020. Credits: NASA/KSC

 

A Mars 2020 prelaunch news conference is held at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 27, 2020. Participating in the briefing, from left, are Moderator Bettina Inclan, NASA Headquarters; NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine; Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate; Matt Wallace, deputy project manager, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Launch Director Omar Baez, NASA’s Launch Services Program; and Tory Bruno, CEO, United Launch Alliance. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Mars Curiosity mosaic by Ken Kremer & Marco Di Lorenzo featured at CBS 6 Orlando TV News

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Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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