On Thursday July 30, 2020, NASA launched the Mars Perseverance Rover using United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket. The launch took place at 7:50am ET from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Yes, yuh big macko, I was able to watch it because I was working from home, yuh too fass!

The mission had a launch window of mid-July to mid-Aug otherwise it would have faced a delay of about 2 years for Mars and Earth to be in the right positions in the solar system again.

The Atlas 5 rocket was fired off into space at 24,785 mph aiming at a point in space where Mars will be on February 18, 2021. That’s right, it’s a 7 month journey to the red planet. It took 5 years to pick the perfect landing site known as the Jezero Crater.

The purpose of this 9th mission to Mars and the first since the 1970s, is to land the most advanced rover ever on the surface of Mars to seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth. I mean we have rocks and dirt here already but ok.

NASA says it spent more than US$2.4 billion to design, build and prepare the Mars 2020 mission for launch. The total mission is expected to cost around US$2.7 billion. That’s a lot of coin considering roughly only half of all Mars missions are successful. Imagine if they used that money to fix some of the problems on this planet instead of using it to find another planet to mess up.

Anyway, before you get your hopes up thinking that if this planet gets too “Covid-y” we could head there like next year, it’s not that simple. While the rover itself carries instruments to help scientists choose which rocks to sample, it does not have the ability to fly back home on its own.

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) will launch a mission from as early as 2026 to shoot the samples into orbit around Mars. Then separate spacecrafts provided by NASA and ESA will link up with the samples in orbit around Mars, and bring it to Earth no earlier than 2031. Yeah 2031!!!

So yeah, we have at least 10 years before we find out if there were ancient Martians and if so what happened to them (hopefully they don’t find any Covid or Trump). Landing an actual person on Mars is a long ways off I imagine.

So for the foreseeable future we still have to wear our masks, sanitize, practice social distancing and deal with the fools still on this planet.


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