The final launch to Mars for the next two years looked pretty epic

On Thursday morning, an Atlas V rocket launched NASA’s latest rover, Perseverance, to Mars.

This marked the third of three launches to the red planet in 2020—following the UAE’s Hope and China’s Tianwen-1 missions—and it came near the closing of this year’s month-long “window” to the red planet. During such a window, which comes around about every 26 months, spacecraft can follow an elliptical orbit such that they will arrive at the location in space where Mars will be seven months from now—making the shortest possible journey to the red planet.

Even the smallest missions to Mars need a powerful rocket to launch, and this is especially true for a rover that will be the largest object NASA has ever tried to land on the red planet’s surface. Perseverance weighs a little more than a metric ton.

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