CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The summer's third and final mission to Mars is about to get underway at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
NASA's most elaborate life-hunting rover, Perseverance, is scheduled to rocket away Thursday morning.
It will follow China's rover-orbiter combo and a United Arab Emirates orbiter, both launched last week.
Perseverance will scrounge for evidence of past microscopic life in an ancient lakebed at Mars, and gather the most promising rock samples for future pickup.
NASA is teaming up with the European Space Agency to return the samples to Earth around 2031.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on the eve of the launch that it will be a challenge getting the samples back.