The Scramble for Mars
This month 3 different countries are launching their own spacecraft that is going to Mars.
The USA, United Arab Emirates, and China are all sending spacecraft to Mars that are unmanned, which means there will be no astronauts on board.
They are all sending their spacecraft at the same time as we are now within the one-month window that has the best alignment for space travel. Earth and Mars are on the same side of the Sun and the closest together they get which means rockets get there quicker and use less fuel.
This one-month window is only available once every 26 months, so it would be over 2 years before the next opportunity.
These countries are sending rovers to Mars, to collect data and report back so we can find out what Mars used to look like when it was covered in water.
NASA’s rover is called perseverance and will land in February 2021. Much like the Curiosity rover, it is about the size of a small car and has 6 wheels designed for the Martian surface. It will collect rock and soil samples from different areas. These samples are actually going to come back to Earth in about 10 years if everything goes well.