Preparing for liftoff: NASA’s Mars rover arrives at Kennedy Space Center

NASA?s latest Mars rover has arrived at the Kennedy Space Center.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s latest Mars rover has arrived at the Kennedy Space Center.

It arrived to payload processing before it begins final preparation for its launch to the red planet this July.

The rover isn’t ready for liftoff just yet. Teams will begin testing the components to assess their health following the rover’s cross-country flight from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

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“There’s a lot of ground support equipment that’s being used, a lot of testing they needed to do, to verify no damage was done during transport,” said Malcolm Boston, an aerospace engineer.

Once the work is done, the rover will be delivered to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to be integrated with the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

The rover will collect and store rock and soil samples and search for signs of past microbial life, as well as data on the planet’s climate and geology, paving the way for human exploration.

The journey to Mars will take eight to 10 months. Once samples are returned to Earth, they will head to a lab for in-depth study.