NASA's Mars-bound Perseverance rover is ready to blast off! You can watch the groundbreaking mission launch Thursday (July 30) live online as well as on TV, cable and satellite and get in on the action over social media.
Perseverance, which we've nicknamed "Percy," is set to lift off July 30 at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT) on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The mission will launch the rover to Jezero Crater on the Martian surface, where Perseverance is expected to land on Feb.18, 2021 after a seven-month journey.
You can watch the Mars rover launch live here and on Space.com's homepage, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT). But NASA's live webcasts, which will include some behind-the-scenes moments for the mission, won't be the only place you can enjoy the launch.
Thanks to the magic of social media, the agency has created a number of ways that anyone can get involved with the event from home. Read on for a timeline of NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover webcasts through July 30, and how to join in via social media.
NASA's Countdown to Mars 2020 Virtual Social
For the launch, NASA is inviting the public to participate online and through social media. The agency is hosting a virtual NASA Social event, rolling out fun augmented reality filters on social media apps (you can find Instagram augmented reality filters of Mars here, Mission Control here and a 3D rover here), educational and fun tool kits for students and they've invited the public to submit videos to potentially be a part of the live launch broadcast, take a souvenir photo in a "Mars Photo Booth" and send your name to Mars!
You can even participate in the launch in virtual reality with a VR launch broadcast with Oculus on Facebook. Additionally, you can explore "Percy" in 3D with an interactive NASA tool that lets you really get up close and personal with the Mars-bound rover. Check out related activities and lesson plans for students here and here, and a "Mars 2020 STEM [Science Technology Engineering and Math] Toolkit" here.
On social media, the agency is using the hashtag #CountdownToMars to celebrate the event.
“More than 112,000 people registered to be our virtual guests for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight launch in May, which was the first time the agency had offered this type of launch experience to the public,” NASA Associate Administrator for Communications Bettina Inclán said in an agency statement. “For our Mars 2020 Perseverance rover launch, we hope even more people will join us as we #CountdownToMars!”
With this mission, "Percy" will parachute down into Jezero Crater and is set to spend roughly two Earth years rolling around and exploring the Martian surface. With a robotic arm, a suite of high-resolution cameras and a variety of advanced scientific instruments, the rover will gather data to help scientists explore any possibly habitable environments on the planet, any signs of ancient, microscopic life and the rover will take samples that might one day travel to Earth with a future mission.
To watch history unfold, you can check out the broadcast on NASA's website here in addition to the NASA TV channel if your cable or satellite provider carries it. NASA will stream coverage of the launch online via YouTube, Twitter and other social media channels, and is holding a virtual #launchAmerica event with video tours and other features for the public to watch.
Here's a full list of the NASA streams available:
While launch coverage begins at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT), NASA will have "Percy" coverage on NASA TV all week. Follow along for updates and all things Mars with the schedule below:
Monday, July 27 (All times in EDT)
1 p.m. – Mars 2020 Pre-Launch News Conference
3 p.m. – Mars 2020 Mission Engineering/Science Briefing
Tuesday, July 28
2 p.m. – Mars 2020 Mars Sample Return Briefing
4 p.m. – Mars 2020 Mission Tech and Humans to Mars Briefing
Thursday, July 30
7 a.m. – Mars 2020 Perseverance launch broadcast
11:30 a.m. – Mars 2020 Perseverance post-launch news conference
NASA has until Aug. 15 to launch Perseverance toward Mars and still reach the Red Planet on Feb. 18. Visit Space.com for complete coverage of the Mars 2020 mission.
Email Chelsea Gohd at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.