NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover lifted off successfully on July 30, at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT) aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The successful launch culminated years of work involving NASA and contractor staff throughout the agency. Metis was honored to participate in this important mission as a subcontractor to Peraton on the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Deep Space Network (DSN) team.
Metis Network Operations Analysts and Critical Events Planers began preparations for Mars 2020 1.5 years before launch. The spacecraft was introduced into the network via configurations developed to match that of the telecommunication capabilities of the mission. Once in place, the DSN team was ready for testing. Data flows, training activities, and ground systems tests were conducted to prove connectivity. Compatibility testing with the rover and cruise stage’s transponder was supported by Metis engineers traveling to Kennedy Space Center. Operational readiness tests and launch rehearsals prepared the team for critical activities such as launch, trajectory correction maneuvers, and entry, descent, and landing. The team worked closely with JPL navigators to assess link budgets using +/-3 sigma trajectory files. Most of this work was accomplished during the challenging environment of COVID-19 social distancing and working remotely.
The DSN team provided Tracking, Telemetry, Command (TT&C) and Monitor Data Support for the Launch and Initial Acquisition. Metis engineers verified launch configurations and validated station performance on launch day, and then helped troubleshoot possible configurations and receiver parameters shortly after launch to achieve final Telemetry lock. The DSN team will be supporting all Mars 2020 daily activities through end of mission, looking forward to a successful landing in February 2021.