This story is part of , our series exploring the red planet.
Launch day is almost here. NASA will livestream the event as the car-size rover takes off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. Prelaunch coverage starts at 4 a.m. PT and the two-hour window opens at 4:50 a.m.is all packed away and ready to head for Mars on Thursday, July 30.
NASA announced on July 22 that the mission had passed its flight readiness review, which includes a preparedeness assessment of the spacecraft, rocket, procedures and personnel. “Mars is a tough customer, and we don’t take anything for granted,” said the Perseverance mission’s deputy project manager, Matt Wallace.
The launch will depend on weather and technical factors. It was previouslybecause of technical issues.
It’s been almost nine years since NASA sent off its previous rover, Curiosity, to Mars. Perseverance is the most advanced robot NASA has sent to the surface of Mars. Once it sets down in the Jezero Crater — an area with a history of water — the rover will kick off a mission to seek out signs of ancient microbial life.
The rover isn’t going alone. It also carries anunder its belly.
NASA Perseverance rover ready to explore the wilds of Mars
NASA’s mission isthis year when the red planet is in a favorable position relative to Earth. Missing that window means waiting until 2022 for the next chance. Perseverance could potentially launch as late as mid-August if necessary.
The United Arab Emirates successfully, and on July 22. All three missions are scheduled to reach Mars in February 2021.