NASA's Perseverance rover is now en route to the Red Planet. It launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Thursday morning and is expected to land on Mars in February.
It's part of a long-term effort by NASA to explore the planet — examining the geology and searching for signs of ancient microbial life. Scientists and engineers have been working toward this launch for a decade.
A NASA official told reporters, "This is the first time in history where we're going to Mars with an explicit mission to find life on another world — ancient life on Mars."
NASA calls Perseverance "the most sophisticated rover" it has ever sent to Mars. About the size of a car, it features a new drill that can collect and stockpile core samples from rocks and soil.
A helicopter called Ingenuity is also traveling with Perseverance. If successful, it will be the first aircraft to fly "in a controlled way on another planet."