Atop this ULA Atlas V rocket will be Perseverance, a car-sized rover which will explore an ancient river delta on Mars. Armed with a suite of six scientific instruments, Perseverance will primarily hunt for clues to the planet's distant past, and hopefully uncover signs of ancient life and habitability. The rover also carries an experiment that'll convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, a box-sized helicopter named Ingenuity that'll demonstrate powered flight on Mars, and a system that enables the rover to leave behind samples for later retrieval and return to Earth during NASA and ESA's ambitious sample return mission later this decade.
United Launch Alliance (ULA) is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space & Security. ULA was formed in December 2006 by combining the teams at these companies which provide spacecraft launch services to the government of the United States. ULA launches from both coasts of the US. They launch their Atlas V vehicle from LC-41 in Cape Canaveral and LC-3E at Vandeberg. Their Delta IV launches from LC-37 at Cape Canaveral and LC-6 at Vandenberg.
NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will land in the Jezero crater using a MSL-inspired sky-crane at approximately 20:55 UTC. It will investigate an astrobiologically relevant ancient environment on Mars and investigate its surface geological processes and history, including the assessment of its past habitability, the possibility of past life on Mars, and the potential for preservation of biosignatures within accessible geological materials. It will cache sample containers along its route for a potential future Mars sample-return mission. Perseverance is also ferrying several cutting-edge technologies to the surface of Mars – including a helicopter named Ingenuity, the first aircraft to attempt powered, controlled flight on another planet.
For its second flight, the Ingenuity helicopter will climb to 16 feet (5 meters) and, after hovering briefly, it will go into a slight tilt and move sideways for 7 feet (2 meters). Then Ingenuity will come to a stop, hover in place, and make turns to point its color camera in different directions before heading back to the center of the airfield to land.