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NASA's next Mars rover is locked and loaded for this summer's launch

The space agency shared images of the Atlas V rocket's nose cone at the Kennedy Space Center, inside which Perseverance sits waiting for launch.

NASA/KSC

Perseverance, NASA's next Mars explorer, will soon launch on a mission in search of signs that microbial life once existed on the red planet. Following delays that forced the space agency to push back the date of liftoff, the Atlas V rocket carrying the new rover is slated to disembark between July 30 and Aug. 15.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

And all the pieces are beginning to fall into place.

As of this week, the rover is officially attached to its ride and sits encased in the enormous nose cone of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

NASA/KSC

129ft

How high the nose cone containing Perseverance was hoisted to get to the top of the rocket, where engineers fixed it into place.

NurPhoto/NurPhoto/Getty Images

It'll be some time before Perseverance reaches its destination after leaving the Kennedy Space Center. NASA says the rover will land precisely on Feb. 18, 2021, in a region of Mars known as the Jezero Crater.

NASA/KSC

290M

How many miles Perseverance will travel to reach Mars, or 467 million kilometers.

Thanks to tools like its SHERLOC instrument and WATSON camera, it could help us to finally determine if Mars was ever home to life.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Perseverance sets a new bar for our ambitions at Mars. We will get closer than ever before to answering some of science's longest-standing questions about the Red Planet, including whether life ever arose there.”

Lori Glaze, planetary science director at NASA Headquarters

MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

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