NASA’s next-generation Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Thursday atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a $2.4 billion (roughly Rs. 17,974 crores) mission to search for traces of potential past life on Earth’s planetary neighbor.
The next-generation robotic rover – a car-sized six-wheeled scientific vehicle – also is scheduled to deploy a mini helicopter on Mars and test out equipment for future human missions to the fourth planet from the sun. It is expected to reach Mars next February.
It soared into the sky under clear, sunny, and warm conditions carried by an Atlas 5 rocket from the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance. The launch took place after the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California where its mission engineers were located was rattled by an earthquake.
This marked NASA’s ninth journey to the Martian surface.
Perseverance is due to land at the base of an 820-foot-deep (250 meters) crater called Jezero, a former lake from 3.5 billion years ago that scientists suspect could bear evidence of potential past microbial life on Mars.
Scientists have long debated whether Mars – once a much more hospitable place than it is today – ever harbored life. Water is considered