NASA’s Perseverance is the fifth Mars rover to be launched on the seven-month journey to the Red Planet. But Perseverance is the first rover designed explicitly to search for signs of alien life, past and present. NASA will launch the rover today (July 30) from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and you can watch the action unfold live online in the embedded NASA TV stream below.
The NASA broadcast will kick off at noon UK time (7am EDT, 4am PDT), or about an hour before launch.
NASA TV is the US space agency’s round-the-clock educational broadcasting that is free to watch online and on some terrestrial TV channels in the US.
The historic launch will also be broadcast live on NASA’s website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, LinkedIn, Daily Motion and Theta TV.
NASA said: “Was there once life on Mars? Our Perseverance rover aims to find out!
“On Thursday, July 30, watch our new robotic astrobiologist launch on a seven-month journey to the Red Planet.
“Launching on board will be the most sophisticated set of tools ever sent to Mars, with the hope Perseverance will uncover the planet’s secrets.”
Perseverance is pencilled in to launch at 12.50pm BST (7.50am EDT, 4.50 PDT) today.
But this is only one of many launch windows that will open between now and August 15.
Each consecutive day, NASA will have between 30 minutes and two hours to launch the rover, with a new opportunity every five minutes.
Was there once life on Mars? Our Perseverance rover aims to find out!
However, NASA’s officials seem positive the launch will go ahead today without a hitch.
Janet Petro, deputy director of the Kennedy Space Center, said: “When we started 2020, we knew we were going to have a big year at the spaceport.
“And I think the events and the milestones of the next couple of days are really going to demonstrate that.”
Perseverance will launch on top of a United Launch Alliance (UAL) Atlas V rocket.
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The rocket will then spend about seven months in space before it is intercepted by Mars’s gravity.
On February 18, 2021, the rover will plummet into the planet’s atmosphere and land in an ancient lakebed dubbed Jezero crater.
Jezero is a prime candidate in the hunt for life as it could have once hosted the conditions for microbes to thrive.
NASA said: “Jezero crater tells a story of the on-again, off-again nature of the wet past of Mars.
“More than 3.5 billion years ago, river channels spilled over the crater wall and created a lake.
“Scientists see evidence that water carried clay minerals from the surrounding area into the crater lake.
“Conceivably, microbial life could have lived in Jezero during one or more of these wet times.
“If so, signs of their remains might be found in lakebed or shoreline sediments.”
Perseverance will collect rock and soil samples NASA then aims to collect and return to Earth in 2026.
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