Andrew Good Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. firstname.lastname@example.org
Alana Johnson NASA Headquarters, Washington email@example.com
The daily chatter between antennas here on Earth and those on NASA spacecraft at Mars is about to get much quieter for a few weeks.
That’s because Mars and Earth will be on opposite sides of the Sun, a period known as Mars solar conjunction. The Sun expels hot, ionized gas from its corona, which extends far into space. During solar conjunction, this gas can interfere with radio signals when engineers try to communicate with spacecraft at Mars, corrupting commands and resulting in unexpected behavior from our deep space explorers.
NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Centennial, Colorado, to provide launch services for a mission that will address high-priority science goals for the agency’s Journey to Mars.
Mars 2020 is targeted for launch in July 2020 aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rover will conduct geological assessments of its landing site on Mars, determine the habitability of the environment, search for signs of ancient Martian life, and assess natural resources and hazards for future human explorers.