The previous window, which opened In May 2018, saw the launch of the InSight mission. In 2020, the Mars mission can depart at any time in the interval July 17 – August 5, depending on the weather and other factors.
Regardless of the launch date, NASA targets a landing in the Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021.
"Back when we started this project in 2013, we came up with a timeline to chart mission progress," said about the mission launch readiness John McNamee, Mars 2020 project manager.
"That every single major spacecraft component on a project with this level of innovation is synching right now with that timeline is a testament to the innovation and perseverance of a great team."
The mission is meant to land on Mars a brand new rover that is tasked with never-before-attempted experiments: the generation of oxygen, the search for signs of life and the preparation of samples to be picked up and sent to Earth by a subsequent mission.
The rover is 10 feet long (3 meters), 9 feet wide (2.7 meters), and 7 feet tall (2.2 meters), bigger than any of the vehicles deployed there so far.
It is next year's launch, alongside the planned trip to the Moon in 2024, that will form the basis for NASA's announced plans to send a human crew to the Red Planet.