NASA's highly anticipated Mars 2020 mission is scheduled to launch on Thursday, July 30.
The main goal of the mission is to look for signs of old life, collect rock and soil samples for later return to Earth, and collect data for future human exploration of the distant planet.
While NASA's Perseverance Rover will do much of the work, the mission will also see a plane fly to another planet for the first time when the Ingenuity helicopter takes off from the surface of Mars.
Just a few days before the United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket explodes with perseverance, ingenuity, and a piece of Mars rock, a new NASA video (below) provides a brief but informative overview of the ambitious mission.
Perseverance is an enhanced version of the NASA Curiosity Rover that continues to explore Mars after its arrival in 2012.
NASA's latest rover is about the size of a small car and has six sturdy wheels, a variety of scientific instruments, a 2-meter long robotic arm, 23 cameras and, for the first time, a few microphones that capture the possible eerie sound of Mars winds – as well as all other sounds that we don't know yet.
The Perseverance Rover mission is scheduled to start Thursday at 7:50 a.m. from Cape Canaveral, Florida (so you can follow the event online). Space fans looking forward to updates to the Mars mission must be patient, however, as the rover won't reach its destination until February 2021.
Right now there is great interest in Mars as more and more countries try to reach the red planet. A few days ago, China launched a rover and an orbiter towards Mars, and shortly before that, the United Arab Emirates sent an orbiter. Preparations for a joint European-Russian mission are currently underway in 2022, with Japan and India also planning separate Mars missions in the next few years.
There are no concrete plans for the first human mission, although we could see an attempt in the 2030s where NASA is considering such a mission through its Artemis program.