NASA has launched the Perseverance rover without issues, but the spacecraft is in safe mode due to an unexpected glitch. The launch took place at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with the help of an Atlas V rocket.
According to a statement offered by NASA Administrator James Bridenstine, the launch took place without incidents and within the desired window of opportunity. However, NASA acknowledged after the initial press conference that Perseverance engaged the safe mode state after it encountered temperatures that were lower than expected while passing through Earth’s shadow.
A communication glitch was observed and persisted for several hours after launch as the rover sent a signal that was detected but could not be decoded properly. While this may seem to be concerning, there is a simple explanation behind the problem.
NASA relies on the Deep Space Network to stay in touch with spacecraft sent to distant targets. Since the Perseverance rover is still too close to Earth, the signal sent by the spacecraft is too strong. After NASA engineers made a series of adjustments to the network, the issues were solved.
Safe mode use
While the spacecraft traveled through Earth’s shadow, it is temperature dropped below initial estimations, engaging the safe mode system, which aims to ensure that the spacecraft will not be affected by potential damage. The team responsible for the spacecraft is keeping a close eye on telemetry data, and everything seems fine at this point.
Some issues can always surface, and NASA has underlined the fact that the launch was incredibly smooth. The spacecraft will spend almost seven months on the flight to the Red Planet. A major trial will begin once the planet is reached, as NASA experts will have to guide it through the descent and landing stages, but the missions are an overall success for now.