Perseverance Rover launched toward Mars

Perseverance Rover Atlas V launchNASA launches the Perseverance Rover on its way to the planet Mars atop an Atlas V rocket. Though built around an assembly of flight spares left over from the Curosity Rover, Perseverance (known more formally as the Mars 2020 Rover) carries new experiments, including an ability to gather soil samples and seal them for pickup and return to Earth by a later (as yet unannounced) mission, over 20 built-in cameras, and – in a first for planetary exploration – a microphone designed to record the sounds of the Martian environment. Also attached to Perseverance is a drone, Ingenuity, designed for independent flight in the Martian atmosphere. Perseverance is aimed at Jezero Crater, an environment where liquid surface water is believed to have existed in Mars’ distant past, with a February 2021 landing date. The vehicle alarms ground controllers by going into a “safe mode” after launch, but communications and telemetry resume shortly afterward.