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What Are Robots Doing On Mars?

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NASA/JPL-Caltech
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In a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA's Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019. It is scheduled to land in an area of Mars known as Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

On Thursday, February 18th, a robot called a rover is expected to land on the surface of Mars, and begin collecting information scientists hope will help us learn if life ever existed on that planet! We answer your Mars questions with Mitch Schulte, NASA program scientist for the Mars 2020 mission.

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NASA has a number of ways that you can watch the landing live on February 18th at 11:15 a.m. PST / 2:15 p.m. EST / 19:15 UTC.

The rover is called Perseverance, which means not giving up, continuing to work toward a difficult goal even when challenges are placed in your way.

And it is quite a challenge just to get to Mars! The rover was launched on a rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida more than 6 months ago, by NASA, the U.S. Space Agency. And it has been traveling through space ever since, on a path to Mars. And now, people all over the world are eager to watch it land on Mars and get to work.

And it's not just Perseverance that is going to land on Mars. There's also a helicopter, called Ingenuity, which means cleverness, creativeness and resourcefulness all rolled into one. Ingenuity, the helicopter, is basically a drone-there's no one inside driving it around, just as there are no people onboard the rover. But ingenuity is the first helicopter to ever test-fly on another planet!