NASA’s newest Mars rover is set for takeoff on Thursday, marking day one of what will be a roughly seven-month trip before it arrives at the red planet.
The ULA Atlas V rocket, dubbed the Dominator, will commence takeoff at 7:50 a.m. Thursday carrying the Perseverance rover as part of the Mars 2020 mission. The 2,260 lb. rover is designed to continue NASA’s search for micro-organic life on Mars, along with studying the planets geology and atmosphere. To assist in the research, the first helicopter drone Ingenuity is being sent with the Perseverance and will be the first vehicle to fly regularly inside the planet’s atmosphere.
Perseverance’s ultimate goal is to gather samples in preparation for another first – a return trip to Earth for those samples. The rover will collect samples in marked canisters to be collected during retrieval missions to Mars. NASA said it will accomplish this through cooperation with the European Space Agency.
Perseverance and Ingenuity are scheduled to arrive on Mars in February 2021.
As with previous NASA launches, Thursday’s is available for all to watch online through NASA’s official YouTube channel. NASA correspondents will speak about the Mars 2020 mission and go into detail about the Perseverance before takeoff.