Space & Planetary Science: July 2020 Archives

Keith's note: NASA Launched the Mars 2020 rover Perseverance today. As Perseverance departs it leaves a troubled world behind to explore a new one in search of life. At the Perseverance post-launch media event I asked NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen about exploring a new world during such difficult times.

I asked: "Right now the nation is in the midst of a pandemic nightmare that is not going to end any time soon, It is going to be a dark, scary winter. 328 million Americans are going to be staring at their computers and TVs as will billions around the world. NASA is sending an Astrobiology droid to Mars to look for evidence of life. It may discover that we are not alone. How cool is that. It has been nearly half a century since the Viking landers attempted much the same task. The world could use some good news now. How is NASA going to involve the world in a way that speaks to the way we are all isolated - yet still connected? How will NASA make the Perseverance mission a bright light amidst an otherwise gloomy winter?"

The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, powered by the United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket, has blasted off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station! The liftoff went right on time, at 7:50 a.m. EDT.

Viking Mission Overview, NASA

"NASA's Viking 1 and 2 missions to Mars, each consisting of an orbiter and a lander, became the first space probes to obtain high resolution images of the Martian surface; characterize the structure and composition of the atmosphere and surface; and conduct on-the-spot biological tests for life on another planet. Viking 1 was launched Aug. 20, 1975, and arrived at Mars on June 19, 1976. On July 20, 1976, the Viking 1 lander separated from the orbiter and touched down at Chryse Planitia. Viking 2 was launched Sept. 9, 1975, and entered Mars orbit Aug. 7, 1976. The Viking 2 lander touched down at Utopia Planitia on Sept. 3, 1976."

Viking Landing Sites, NASA press release 7 May 1973

"Project Viking seeks to advance significantly scientific knowledge of the planet Mars, with emphasis on determining if life once existed or is now present."

- Viking, NASA

James Webb Space Telescope to launch in October 2021, ESA

"The launch of the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana is now planned for 31 October 2021. NASA has announced the decision, based on a recently completed schedule risk assessment of the remaining integration and test activities before launch, accounting for impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and technical challenges. Previously, Webb was targeted to launch in March 2021."


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