On Thursday morning, NASA is scheduled to launch its next rover to Mars, the beginning of a years-long mission to figure out if the Red Planet ever hosted life. The rover, called Perseverance, is equipped with instruments to look for evidence of ancient Martian microbes, but its prime goal is to excavate samples and leave them on Mars — so that one day they can be returned to Earth for study. There’s even a tiny helicopter aboard named Ingenuity.
Perseverance’s ride to Mars is the Atlas V rocket, made and operated by the United Launch Alliance. Atlas V rockets have previously flown four NASA missions to Mars, including the Curiosity rover, which landed on the Red Planet in 2012. For this flight, the rocket is equipped with four small…tech, The Verge