NASA says its Perseverance rover is safe despite early launch surprise

NASA launched its Perseverance rover on July 30, sending it off into space on an Atlas V rocket. If everything goes as planned, the rover will reach Mars in February 2021, kicking off a new mission to search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet. Though the launch was a success, there was an early surprise for the rover crew — Perseverance put itself into safe mode, shutting down all but essential systems.

NASA launched its latest Mars rover in the early morning hours on July 30 from Cape Canaveral. The rover's deployment into parking orbit around Earth was a success and the space agency reported getting its first signal from the Perseverance rover around three hours after launch using its Deep Space Network.

Later that morning, however, NASA then received another signal from the rover revealing that it had put itself into safe mode, which is a security feature that aims to protect the machine when its computer detects that conditions are not ideal for its survival. NASA didn't express worry about this, stating that it believed unexpectedly cold temperatures in the Earth's shadow had triggered the event.

The Mars 2020 mission team returned with an update on July 31, stating that all is well and that Perseverance is back into its normal non-safe mode state. As expected, the space agency says the rover entered this state because one of its sensors was triggered by the extra cold temperature in the Earth's shadow.

Mission control sent commands to Perseverance to enter back into its normal state and now they're 'getting down to the business of interplanetary cruise,' according to the mission's project manager Matt Wallace. Perseverance is safely on its way to Mars carrying a small helicopter and a variety of investigative tools.