You can watch the NASA's Mars 2020 launch livestream right here

Pablo Tucker
July 30, 2020

NASA's next-generation Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral on Thursday atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a $2.4 billion mission to search for traces of potential past life on Earth's planetary neighbor.

The U.S. space agency's $2.4 billion United States mission is scheduled for launch at 7:50 a.m. ET and will be streamed live on CBC News. The Denver-based rocket maker and its heritage companies have launched all of NASA's Mars missions, beginning with the Mariners in 1964.

Perseverance marks NASA's first attempt to collect rock samples from Mars for return to Earth.

It's one of three missions, including China's Tianwen-1 (which is carrying a rover) and United Arab Emirates' Hope Probe, that willhave launched to Mars this summer. Third, the mission will characterise the geology of Mars; specifically, the rover will study rock records to understand geological processes that might have been responsible for creating and modifying the Martian crust.

Perseverance will now travel 314 million miles over a period of almost seven months before attempting to land on a 31-mile crater named Jezero.

Once launched, the rover will then travel about seven months until it lands in Mars' Jezero Crater.

Like its older cousin, NASA's Curiosity rover, Perseverance is due to land on the Red Planet with the aid of parachutes and a retrorocket-equipped descent stage. This location on Mars was once a lake, long ago when the atmosphere on Mars was quite different than the dry, dusty and cold environment we know today. NASA is also sending a piece of an astronaut's helmet and four kinds of spacesuit fabrics for the reference of astronauts who may visit Mars in future. That window comes in February 2021, which is when the spaceships are expected to arrive at Mars.

The $2.4 billion mission, slated for liftoff at 1150 GMT from Florida's Cape Canaveral, is planned as the USA space agency's ninth trek to the Martian surface.

Perseverance will conduct an experiment to convert elements of the carbon dioxide-rich Martian atmosphere into propellant for future rockets launching off the planet's surface, or to produce breathable oxygen for future astronauts.

The rover's wheels are more durable than those of its predecessors: they are thicker, are made of a higher grade of aluminium and have a modified shape for better performance.

As with previous NASA launches, Thursday's is available for all to watch online through NASA's official YouTube channel. Called Ingenuity, the helicopter will serve to test powered flight on another world for the first time.

The mission will also see suit material tested. "The samples we select and return will hopefully help us find out whether there was ever life on the Red Planet".

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