launch

NASA's newest Mars rover begins its journey to hunt for alien life

The Perseverance rover will scour a dried-out crater lake where scientists believe ancient life-forms could have left their marks in the rocks.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launches NASA's Perseverance rover to Mars.

Photograph by Michael Seeley

At 7:50 a.m. ET, NASA’s Perseverance rover, bound for Mars, blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Soaring into the sky atop an Atlas V rocket, Perseverance is now settling in for its seven-month interplanetary flight. The rover’s target: Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient crater lake and an erstwhile river delta that the rover will scour for signs of past Martian life.

With its newest, $2.4-billion robot en route to Mars, NASA is setting out to answer a question that has nagged humanity for as long as astronomers have pointed telescopes at the reddish world: Is there—or was there once—life on our neighboring planet?

“Our strategy is to look very deep in time, back

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