The day is finally here, NASA's Mars 2020 mission is a go for launch, and here's how you can watch it.
The mission to the Red Planet will lift off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station today (July 30) within a two-hour window that opens at 7.50am ET (12.50pm BST). The mission carries the Perseverance rover and the helicopter Ingenuity, and is expected to land on Mars in late February 2021.
You can watch the launch on the NASA Youtube channel (or right here via the video embed below) and through its social media channels. The broadcast will begin at 7am ET and will continue after the launch. A press conference is expected at 11.30am local time to update us about the state of the mission once it is in space.
Perseverance will be the fifth and most advanced NASA rover to drive across the frigid planes of Mars. It will explore Jezero crater, an ancient lake in which water flowed, for signs of life as well as a deeper understanding of Mars' geology. Perseverance’s suite of instruments will allow incredible investigation of the Martian surface. It has more cameras than any interplanetary mission in history and will even record the sounds of Mars for the first time thanks to microphones.
The mission has a fantastic chemistry lab on board but will also collect material to be studied at a later date not by itself but back on Earth. NASA and the European Space Agency are collaborating on a Sample-Return mission, and all going well, we might have Martian samples here on Earth in 2031.
The Mars 2020 mission will also be a technology demonstration for Ingenuity, the first flying machine to be sent to another world, to see if we can fly drones in conditions on another planet. The goal for this mission is for it to be able to fly in short bursts and autonomously for 30 Martian days. If successful it might herald many more flying missions to Mars and beyond.
You can watch the live-streamed launch right here.