NASA's next rover to the Red Planet is slated to launch no earlier than July 30. These highlights will get you up to speed on the ambitious mission.
This illustration depicts NASA's Perseverance rover operating on the surface of Mars. Perseverance will land at the Red Planet's Jezero Crater a little after 3:40 p.m. EST (12:40 p.m. PST) on Feb. 18, 2021. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
In less than a month, NASA expects to launch the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Loaded with scientific instruments, advanced computational capabilities for landing, and other new systems, the Perseverance rover is the largest, heaviest, most sophisticated vehicle NASA has ever sent to the Red Planet.
"Perseverance sets a new bar for our ambitions at Mars," said Lori Glaze, planetary science director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We will get closer than ever before to answering some of science's longest-standing questions about the Red Planet, including whether life ever arose there."
What drives Perseverance's mission and what will it do at the Red Planet? Here are seven things to know:
No matter where you live, choose from a menu of activities to join NASA as we "Countdown to Mars" and launch the Perseverance rover to the Red Planet.
NASA is inviting the public to take part in virtual activities and events ahead of the launch of the agency's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, which is targeted for 7:50 a.m. EDT (4:50 a.m. PDT) Thursday, July 30, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Perseverance Launch to Mars: This illustration shows the moment after liftoff of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The spacecraft begins the first part of its journey to Mars atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.