NASA to launch Mars 2020 Perseverance rover this week
An artist's concept of the Mars 2020 Perseverance on the Red Planet
At 7:50 a.m. EDT Thursday, July 30, NASA will launch its Mars 2020 Perseverance rover from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida to start its almost seven-month journey to the Red Planet. The rover will be aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket.
Perseverance will reach Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, touching down on the surface of Jezero Crater, located on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, a giant impact basin just north of the Martian equator. NASA describes the rover as a "robotic astrobiologist and scientist" that will "search for signs that microbes might have lived on Mars long ago, collect soil samples to be returned to Earth on a future mission and pave the way for human exploration beyond the Moon."
Also joining Perseverance on the mission is a helicopter called Ingenuity, which will make the first attempt at powered flight on another world.