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NASA nudges back launch date for Mars Perseverance rover

Update your calendar and put a big circle around July 20.

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The Perseverance rover when through some balancing tests during pre-launch preparations.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

The world will have to wait a few extra days to witness the launch of NASA's next robotic Mars explorer. The space agency announced this week a slight slip in the launch date for the Perseverance rover, nudging it from July 17 to July 20.

"Additional time was needed for the team to repair an issue with the ground system equipment," NASA said in a brief statement on Wednesday. Delays of this type aren't unusual and NASA will still be well within its targeted time frame for launch.

Perseverance (and the experimental Ingenuity helicopter tucked into its belly) is scheduled to get a ride into space from a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The two-hour launch window will open at 6:15 a.m. PT on July 20. 

If all goes well, Perseverance will join NASA's Curiosity rover as the only functional rolling explorers on Mars. The new vehicle is on a mission to collect samples, study the landscape and look for signs of past microbial life in the intriguing Jezero Crater.

It's a long ride to Mars, but the rover will be on track to arrive at the red planet in February 2021.

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