This week we expect to see the launch of NASA’s latest mission to Mars! The launch is scheduled for the morning of July 30; see the countdown at undefined . The lander is expected to then touch down on Mars in February 2021.

 Nosecone containing Mars 2020 Perseverance rover being loaded for launch

This is an unusually complex mission, featuring two separate mobile units. The Perseverance rover is a heavier redesign of the previous Curiousity rover, with a similar plutonium-based radiothermal generator for power. In addition, Ingenuity is a new helicopter-style flying drone that is carried by the rover, with an array of sensors and cameras. This is an experimental model; if it works as anticipated more complex aerial units may be added to future missions.

Get ready to watch the launch Thursday, and keep your eyes on the sky!

Further reading:

NASA Mars 2020 mission page

NASA  video

Dr. Baranwal of the Department of Energy on the RTG power source for the rover 


Image credit: NASA