Today’s final critical milestone — acquisition of signal — has been achieved. In essence, Perseverance has phoned home to let NASA know it’s officially on the way to Mars.
“This signifies that JPL’s (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) deep space network has locked on to the spacecraft, which is on its journey to Mars,” said NASA Launch Director Omar Baez, from the agency’s Launch Services Program. “Everything appears to be going nominally. Today’s count went beautifully.”
Perseverance has quite the trip ahead. It will reach Mars on February 18, 2021, touching down on the surface of Jezero Crater. The rover will search for signs of past microbial life and help scientists better understand the geology and climate of the Red Planet.
Earlier, just over an hour into its flight, another key milestone — spacecraft separation — took place. The official call came in: “And we have successful separation of Mars 2020 with the Perseverance rover.”