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NASA's Perseverance rover launch kicks off audacious Mars sample-return project

NASA's Perseverance rover launch kicks off audacious Mars sample-return project

NASA's car-sized Perseverance Mars rover launched yesterday (July 30), kicking off a nearly seven-month cruise to the Red Planet. Perseverance will hunt for signs of ancient Mars life after its February 2021 touchdown on the floor of Jezero Crater, which hosted a lake and a river delta billions of years ago. But the nuclear-powered robot will also collect and cache at least 20 samples of Red Planet rock and soil for future return to Earth, so scientists can scrutinize the stuff in far more detail than Perseverance could ever manage on its own.

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