The Atlas V rocket carrying the 2020 Mars rover Perseverance launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida Thursday. Courtesy photo
SuperCam principal investigator Roger Wiens watches Perseverance launch aboard an Atlas V rocket Thursday morning from his home in Los Alamos. Courtesy photo
Roger Wiens at his Los Alamos home Thursday morning. Wiens is the principal investigator for the SuperCam which was designed, built and tested at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The instrument headed to Mars Thursday with the Perseverance rover. The Los Alamos Reporter congratulates Roger, his family, and the entire SuperChem team on this momentous occasion. Courtesy photo
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Roger and Gwen Wiens joined millions of people around the world Thursday who watched the 2020 Mars Rover Perseverance launch from Cape Canaveral on its journey to Mars.
“The first thing I did this morning was to run outside at 4:45 a.m. and get a good long look at Mars, our destination! It was shining pale red, directly overhead. As I watched, a bright meteor left a trail right across the Milky Way ,” Roger Wiens, the principal investigator for the SuperChem instrument aboard Perseverance said. “Then I went inside and started a Webex with the SuperCam team—many people who worked on the instrument here in Los Alamos, but also a number of scientists around the country and in Europe.”
He said the team was very excited to see the Atlas V rocket ignite, clear the launch pad, and accelerate into space,
“The spacecraft and the second stage did nearly one revolution around the Earth and then, about 50 minutes later, fired its rocket engines again to get it on its way to the Red Planet, Roger Wiens said. “The next big event will be the nail-biting landing on February 18. I’m really hoping and praying that we can all do an in-person live event to celebrate Los Alamos’ second mission landing on Mars.”
The Perseverance will seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth during a mission which will last at least one Mars year which is about 687 Earth days.
See the Los Alamos Reporter’s interview with Roger Wiens here.