Nasa’s new Mars rover Perseverance successfully blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on a $2.7bn billion mission to search for traces of ancient life on Earth’s planetary neighbour.
Perseverance is due to land at the base of a 250m crater called Jezero, which scientists suspect could bear evidence of potential past microbial life on Mars.
The next-generation robotic rover – a car-sized six-wheeled scientific vehicle – will also test out equipment for future human missions to the red planet. It is expected to reach Mars next February.
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