"There would be no bigger discovery in the history of humanity than finding life that is not on our own world", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said.
The team controlling the rover has received telemetry or detailed spacecraft data from the spacecraft and has also been able to send commands up to the spacecraft, according to Matt Wallace, the mission's deputy project manager.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of America's larger Moon to Mars exploration approach that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. All temperatures are now nominal and the spacecraft is out of Earth's shadow.
The Perseverance team, he said, worked through prepared mitigation strategies that included detuning the receivers and pointing the antennas slightly off-target from the spacecraft to bring the signal within an acceptable range.
The Perseverance rover blasted into the skies at 4:50 am EDT (11:50 GMT) on July 30th atop a United Launch Alliance built Atlas V rocket on a mission to collect samples for an eventual return mission to Earth, and continue the hunt for life on the Red Planet. The rover is officially on its way to Jezero Crater on Mars. Perseverance also will collect and store rock and soil samples meant to be returned to Earth in the future.
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Scientists have long debated whether Mars - once a much more hospitable place than it is today - ever harbored life.
Since NASA's first Mars rover Sojourner landed in 1997, the agency has sent two others, Spirit and Opportunity.
While most of Perseverance's seven instruments are geared toward learning more about the planet's geology and astrobiology, the MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) instrument's job is focused on missions yet to come. We are going to Jezero Crater.
"Yesterday's lovely launch of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover inspires scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs alike, to pursue, explore, and innovate through space activities for the benefit of all of Earth's inhabitants", said Ken Davidian, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of New Space: The Journal of Space Entrepreneurship and Innovation.