Orlando, Fla. — The Space Coast is gearing up for another historic summertime rocket launch.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is providing lift for NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover early Thursday morning.
Forecasters with the 45th Space Wing call for an 80% chance of acceptable weather conditions when the two-hour launch window opens at 7:50 a.m.
“We are expecting to see isolated to a few scattered showers just offshore from Complex 41, but they will be moving very little or away from the pad,” said Weather Officer Jessica Williams.
Backup launch opportunities on Friday and Saturday also show favorable weather conditions at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
After reaching the surface of Mars in February 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover will begin its mission of studying the planet’s geology by collecting and storing rock samples for a possible return to Earth.
The car-sized rover is fitted with scientific instruments including ‘Ingenuity’— a first-of-its-kind Mars helicopter— nearly two dozen cameras, and the first microphones to record sound.
The mission will last at least one Mars year (about two Earth years) exploring the landing site and performing experiments that address the challenges of future human expeditions to the Red Planet.