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Mars Perseverance Rover/Copter Ready For Launch Early Today

Targeted For Launch, 0750 EDT Thursday, July 30

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket, carrying NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter, has arrived at the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The rover is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the Red Planet. The rover will search for habitable conditions in the ancient past and signs of past microbial life on Mars. The Launch Services Program at Kennedy is responsible for launch management.

Perseverance is NASA’s latest Red Planet rover, designed to search for astrobiological evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars. Following a seven-month journey, it will land at Jezero Crater 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. The robotic scientist, which weighs just under 2,300 pounds, also will carry the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, a technology demonstration that marks the first attempt at powered, controlled flight on another planet.

The mission – designed to better understand the geology and climate of Mars and seek signs of ancient life on the Red Planet – will use the robotic scientist, which weighs just under 2,300 pounds and is the size of a small car, to collect and store a set of rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth by future Mars sample return missions. It also will test new technologies to benefit future robotic and human exploration of Mars.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, managed by Caltech in Southern California, built the Perseverance rover and will manage mission operations for NASA. The agency's Launch Services Program, based at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.

Mars 2020 Perseverance is part of America’s larger Moon to Mars exploration approach that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

Charged with sending the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis program.

FMI: www.nasa.gov/mars2020, https://nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars

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