With eight successful Mars landings, NASA is upping the ante with its newest rover.
The spacecraft Perseverance — set for liftoff this week — is NASA’s brawniest and brainiest Martian rover yet.
It sports the latest landing tech, plus the most cameras and microphones ever assembled to capture the sights and sounds of Mars. Its super-sanitized sample return tubes — for rocks that could hold evidence of past Martian life — are the cleanest items ever bound for space. A helicopter is even tagging along for an otherworldly test flight.
This summer’s third and final mission to Mars — after the United Arab Emirates’ Hope orbiter and China’s Quest for Heavenly Truth orbiter-rover combo — begins with a launch scheduled for Thursday morning from Cape Canaveral. Like the other spacecraft, Perseverance should reach the red planet next February following a journey spanning seven months and more than 300 million miles (480 million kilometers).
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine doesn’t see it as a competition. “But certainly we welcome more explorers to deliver more science than ever before,” he said following a launch review Monday, “and we look forward to seeing what it is that they’re able to discover”.
Read more: AP