At the moment, the spread of the new coronavirus has not changed NASA's plans for the launch of the Perseverance rover or the Mars 2020 mission as a whole. Its function is to collect samples of Martian rock, seal them in a canister, and leave them on the planet's surface.
"We're going to ensure that we meet that launch window in July", Lori Glaze, the director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said during a virtual town hall meeting on March 19, according to SpaceNews. However, NASA has recently suspended work on its Space Launch System and Orion projects, so it is possible that the Perseverance launch could be impacted as well in the future. The rover's Adaptive Caching Assembly and the Bit Carousel were integrated into the rover's body, then their electrical wiring tested.
The Bit Carousel contains the nine drill bits Perseverance will use to sample Martian rock and dust. Connected to the highest entrance of the rover on March 7 and resembling a flying saucer, it is also the gateway for the samples to maneuver into the stomach of the rover for evaluation and processing by the Adaptive Caching System.
Once the samples have been collected, they will be stored inside the Adaptive Caching System for assessment.
"Our final but most crucial elements to install will be the sample tubes that will contain the first samples that will be brought from another planet back to Earth for analysis", he added. We will keep them impeccable until we integrate them in a couple of months.
Space agency officials remain optimistic that the car-size Perseverance rover, the centerpiece of the Mars 2020 mission, will be ready to launch during a three-week window that opens on July 17. Launch preparations are continuing.
Known as Perseverance, NASA's newest rover weighs about 2,300 pounds. Those pieces are both related to one of Perseverance's core tasks: collecting pristine samples for eventual return to Earth. It doesn't matter what day Perseverance launches through the launch interval, which extends from July 17 via August 5, it should alight on Mars' Jezero Crater simply after 3:40 p.m. EST (12:40 p.m. PST) on February 18, 2021.
JPL, which is managed by Caltech in Pasadena, is building and will manage operations of the Mars Perseverance rover for NASA. Since it was a success, the machine will probably be launched in space as it was previously planned.