Nasa set to land Perseverance rover and mini helicopter on Mars

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Nasa set to land Perseverance rover and mini helicopter on Mars

Most sophisticated vehicle ever sent to red planet will search for signs of life and prepare way for human visits

Clive Cookson

The largest and most sophisticated vehicle ever sent to Mars will land on the red planet next week, beginning a two-year mission that will search for signs of life and prepare the way for future human visits.

All being well, on Thursday the $2.7bn (about R39bn) Perseverance rover will touch down on Jezero Crater near the Martian equator to explore the planet’s surface and collect samples to be sent back to Earth. An ultralight on-board helicopter will also be launched in what would be the first powered flight on another planet. 

“Perseverance is a huge upgrade on all the previous landers and rovers we’ve sent to the planet,” said Prof Andrew Coates, a University College London space scientist who has been involved in Mars missions for 20 years...

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