NASA's Perseverance Mars rover and Ingenuity helicopter are shown in an artist's concept. (Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover is set to launch next Thursday, July 30, on a journey designed to search for astrobiological evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars, according to NASA.
The launch of Perseverance is targeting 7:50 a.m. Eastern Time Thursday, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The rover mission cleared the Flight Readiness Review for Perseverance on Wednesday, and is scheduled to have the Launch Readiness Review on Monday, the last significant checkup before the mission receives final approval to proceed with launch.
Perseverance is car-sized, about 3 meters long, 2.7 meters wide, and 2.2 meters tall, at 1,025 kilograms. Following a seven-month journey, the rover will land at Jezero Crater on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. There, Perseverance will gather rock and soil samples for future return to Earth.
It also will characterize the planet's climate and geology and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.
Perseverance will be the ninth NASA spacecraft visiting the Red Planet's surface, and the first that includes gathering Mars samples for future return to Earth.
Perseverance will have a special passenger along its journey to Mars - Ingenuity, the first helicopter ever to fly on another world. Ingenuity could pave the way for extensive exploration of the Martian skies.
The mission is part of NASA's larger program that includes missions to the moon as a way to prepare for the human exploration of the Red Planet.
Charged with returning astronauts to the moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the moon by 2028 through its Artemis lunar exploration plans.