• NASA confirmed that the Mars 2020 rover will reach the Red Planet in a year
  • The Mars 2020 mission is scheduled to launch in July
  • NASA's new rover will search for alien life on Mars by collecting samples

NASA has shared a new update regarding its upcoming Mars 2020 mission. As confirmed by the agency, the rover that will be used for the mission will reach the Red Planet exactly a year from now.

NASA made the confirmation through a recent Twitter post, which was accompanied by an animated video of a rover as it gets deployed on Mars. According to the agency, its new rover is expected to land on the Red Planet in February next year.

The Mars 2020 mission is a robotic expedition that’s part of NASA’s Artemis spaceflight program. For this mission, NASA will deploy a new rover to explore the planet. The vehicle carrying the rover is scheduled to launch on July 17. It will then travel across space for about seven months. The rover is expected to reach its target landing zone on Mars, which is the Jezero Crater, on Feb. 18, 2021.

According to NASA, the launch date was specifically selected in order to minimize the mission’s travel time from Earth to Mars. As noted by the agency, during Mars 2020’s launch and flight period, Earth and the Red Planet are relatively closer.

“The mission is timed for a launch opportunity in July 2020 when Earth and Mars are in good positions relative to each other for landing on Mars,” NASA explained in a statement. “That is, it takes less power to travel to Mars at this time, compared to other times when Earth and Mars are in different positions in their orbits.”

After arriving on Mars, NASA’s new rover will carry out one of its primary objectives, which is to find traces of alien life on the planet. It will do so by collecting various rock and soil samples from different locations on Mars.

These samples will then be stored by the rover until they are ready to be collected by a future mission. The samples will be brought back to Earth where they will be analyzed to see if they contain signs of microbial life. Aside from detecting the presence of alien life, these tests will also help determine if Mars has habitable features.

Mars 2020 Rover
This artist concept features NASA's Mars 2020 Rover on the surface of Mars. NASA/JPL-Caltech