CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – The launch of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida is set for Thursday, July 30, 2020.
The launch window is approximately two hours, with a launch opportunity every five minutes.
The mission is timed for a launch opportunity in July 2020 when Earth and Mars are in good positions relative to each other for landing on Mars.
This means that it takes less power to travel to Mars at this time, compared to other times when Earth and Mars are in different positions in their orbits around the Sun.
According to the latest forecast from the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron, there is an 80% chance of favorable weather for launch on Thursday.
The primary weather concerns are thick clouds and cumulus clouds.
The Mars 2020 mission – designed to better understand the geology and climate of Mars and seek signs of ancient life on the Red Planet – will use the robotic scientist, which weighs just under 2,300 pounds (1,043 kilograms) and is the size of a small car, to collect and store a set of rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth by future Mars sample return missions
The mission takes the next step by not only seeking signs of habitable conditions on Mars in the ancient past but also searching for signs of past microbial life itself.
The mission also provides opportunities to gather knowledge and demonstrate technologies that address the challenges of future human expeditions to Mars.
These include testing a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, identifying other resources (such as subsurface water), improving landing techniques, and characterizing weather, dust, and other potential environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts living and working on Mars.