After its successful liftoff of NASA’s facilities in Florida, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Perseverance mission is reportedly experiencing technical issues as it makes its way to the Red Planet.
According to a report on The Independent, there were no issues after lift-off but the craft encountered difficulties and is now, as of writing, in ‘safe mode’.
Everything’s well as Perseverance first made its way to space. However, after sending its initial signal, mission control which is based on Earth analyzed the detailed telemetry of the craft when it was received shortly after its ascent.
The telemetry contains the spacecraft data, more like the craft’s log, which suggests that there was something that was off that’s why the mission’s ‘safe mode’ was activated. It is turned on in order for the craft to protect itself from circumstances that are not expected and preplanned by the space agency.
NASA’s specialists speculate that this happened during Perseverance’s position while it was under the influence of Earth’s shadow. It might have been colder than what was expected thus activated the craft’s self-protecting mechanism.
A ‘full health assessment’ of the craft is expected to be conducted by NASA’s elite team of specialists soon. They expect to switch off the craft’s current safe mode afterward as well.
The mission can’t turn it off itself unless it receives a signal containing a command from the mission control based on Earth.
This is not the only issue Perseverance faced on the initial stage of its journey to the Red Planet. It had trouble establishing a proper connection to several deep-space tracking stations but this seems to be resolved as of press time.
Update on @NASAPersevere: We have received telemetry (detailed spacecraft data) down from the spacecraft and have also been able to send commands up to the spacecraft. Perseverance is healthy and on its way to Mars. https://t.co/U6dAazpEBp— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) July 30, 2020
However, NASA reassured the public that everything’s fine. Matt Wallace, Perseverance’s deputy project manager, is quoted on the same The Independent report saying ‘Everything is pointing toward a healthy spacecraft ready to go to Mars and do its mission’.
This will be the United States’ ninth attempt to send a spacecraft to Mars where it is particularly tricky to do so. Dubbed as the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ of recent exploration, more than half of the missions sent there ended up being burnt up, crashing, or ultimately failing.
NASA’s Perseverance is expected to land on the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater in February 2021. The mission will try to search pieces of evidence of ancient life on the site as well as to conduct several experiments including examining the planet’s geological features.
Data gathered from the mission will be used for future improvements in space exploration.