Taken from Nasa Press Kit
NASA’s next mission to Mars — the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission — is targeted to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station no earlier than July 20, 2020. It will land in Jezero Crater on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021. Perseverance is the most sophisticated rover NASA has ever sent to Mars, with a name that embodies NASA’s passion for taking on and overcoming challenges. It will search for signs of ancient microbial life, characterize the planet’s geology and climate, collect carefully selected and documented rock and sediment samples for possible return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration beyond the Moon.
Update: As of June 24, the launch is targeted for no earlier than July 22, 2020. Additional updates can be found on the mission’s launch page.
Perseverance will also ferry a separate technology experiment to the surface of Mars — a helicopter named Ingenuity, the first aircraft to fly in a controlled way on another planet.
The Perseverance rover, built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, is loaded with scientific instruments, advanced computational capabilities for landing and other new systems. With a chassis about 10 feet (3 meters) long, Perseverance is also the largest, heaviest robotic Mars rover NASA has built. What drives its ambitious mission and what will it do at the Red Planet?
Getting the spacecraft to the launch pad this summer has required an extended effort. Concept studies and early technology work started a decade ago — years before the project was formally announced in December 2012. Landing on another planet, searching for signs of ancient life, collecting samples and proving new technologies will also be tough. These challenges epitomize why NASA chose the name Perseverance from among the 28,000 essays submitted during the “Name the Rover” contest. The months leading up to the launch in particular have required creative problem solving and teamwork during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jezero Crater on Mars is a 28-mile-wide (45-kilometer-wide) crater on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, a giant impact basin just north of the Martian equator. The crater was a possible oasis in its distant past.
Between 3 billion and 4 billion years ago, a river there flowed into a body of water the size of Lake Tahoe, depositing sediments packed with carbonite minerals and clay. The Perseverance science team believes this ancient river delta could have collected and preserved organic molecules and other potential signs of microbial life.