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Mars mission 2020 launch: ULA’s Atlas 5 lifts off with NASA’s Perseverance rover

NASA’s next-generation Mars rover Perseverance blasted atop an Atlas 5 rocket on at 7:50 am EDT (5:20 IST) Thursday to search for evidence of ancient life on the red planet.

The rocket with Perseverance took off from the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance.

Perseverance is a $2.4 billion mission and is due to land at the base of an 820-foot-deep (250 meters) crater called Jezero. Scientists believe that this former lake from 3.5 billion years ago could bear evidence of potential past microbial life on Mars.

Loaded with scientific instruments and other new systems, the Perseverance rover is the largest, heaviest, most sophisticated vehicle NASA has ever sent to the Red Planet.

“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,” said Lori Glaze, planetary science director at NASA Headquarters.