Coming Soon: Mars Invasion

Get ready, Mars….We are comin’ your way! Three countries, the U.S., China, and the United Arab Emirates, are sending unmanned spacecraft one right after another to the red planet starting this week. For its part, the U.S. is launching a six-wheeled rover the size of a car to collect rocks samples. It even has a name, “Perseverance.”

Each spacecraft will travel more than 300 million miles before reaching Mars next February. Scientists want to know what Mars was like billions of years ago when it had rivers, lakes, and oceans. Now, it’s a barren, wintry desert. By the way, the three back-to-back launches are no coincidence. The timing is dictated by the opening of a one-month window when Mars and Earth are ideally aligned on the same side of the sun. That cuts down on travel time and fuel use.
Such a window only opens once every 26 months.

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