This illustration from NASA’s “Eyes on the Solar System” app shows the Mars 2020 spacecraft outbound from planet Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance mission resumed normal operations Friday after cold temperatures forced the spacecraft into space mode soon after a successful launch from Cape Canaveral.
“With safe mode exit, the team is getting down to the business of interplanetary cruise,” said Matt Wallace, the Mars 2020 mission’s deputy project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“Next stop, Jezero Crater,” he added, referring to the Perseverance rover’s landing site on Mars.
The $2.7 billion Mars 2020 mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral aboard a United Launch Atlas 5 rocket at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT) Thursday. Less than an hour later, the rocket’s Centaur upper stage deployed the Mars 2020 spacecraft right on target on a trajectory to break free of Earth’s gravitational grasp and head into the solar system.
But the spacecraft, containing NASA’s Perseverance rover, detected colder temperatures than expected as it flew in Earth’s shadow, a phase of the mission known as an eclipse. After flying back into sunlight, the spacecraft powered up its radio transmitter and began sending signals to ground teams through NASA’s Deep ...