On Thursday morning, NASA launched its new Mars rover, Perseverance, on a six-month journey to the Red Planet. The car-sized rover was boosted into space atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that departed from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It’s the third and final Mars mission to depart Earth this summer; earlier in July, China and the United Arab Emirates also launched their first Martian explorers.
Perseverance is essentially an alien-hunting self-driving car. It’s primary mission is to find possible signs of ancient life hidden in the Martian soil and bottle them up so they can be returned to Earth by another robotic mission later this decade.