(ORDO NEWS) — On Monday, NASA gave its new Perseverance rover everything it needs to launch it this week and look for signs of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet.
“The launch readiness check is complete and we are really starting to launch,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“We are now experiencing an extraordinary time in the coronavirus pandemic, and yet we really stood up and defended this mission because it is so important.”
The launch will take place at 7:50 AM (1150 GMT) Thursday from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard the United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle.
The live broadcast will be on YouTube and social networks.
After a seven-month voyage, Perseverance will land in Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021.
The six-wheeled robot, the size of an SUV and weighing 1,040 kg, is NASA’s fifth rover and most advanced to date.
The rover is equipped with a small helicopter called Ingenuity, as well as a robotic arm, multiple cameras and a pair of microphones.
To find evidence of ancient fossilized bacteria, he will use two lasers and X-ray vision.
He will also collect rock and soil samples for a future mission that will return them to Earth for further study.
This is critical in establishing whether any organic compounds it detects are actually from living processes.
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