Perseverance, the new NASA rover designed to study the surface of Mars, was launched onboard ULA Atlas V rocket on July 30, 2020, on the first day of its launch window. 

The spacecraft carrying the rover is set to arrive on the red planet on February 18, 2021, and land in Jezero crater, in the delta of a river that dried up billions of years ago.

It will study the environment looking for signs of extinct Martian microbial life, collect data on the planet’s geology and climate, as well as test prototypes of the technology designed to support the life of the first colonists, such as oxygen production experiments and materials of proposed Martian space suits. 

A small helicopter, called Ingenuity, is also carried by Perseverance. It will serve as proof-of-concept for the use of aircraft that can fly in the extremely thin atmosphere of the planet.