While Jupiter and Saturn dominate the summer evening skies, the fourth planet from the Sun, Mars, rises in the eastern skies a little after midnight in the constellation Pisces the Fish. By mid-August Mars will rise about 10 pm. Its tiny disk will grow in size as the distance between Mars and Earth decreases.
Mars has been the focus of decades of robotic exploration looking for evidence of past life on Mars.
On Thursday, July 30, NASA will launch its newest unmanned rover, called Perseverance from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The launch window for Perseverence is between now and August 15. Because the distance between Earth and Mars changes, if NASA is unable to launch then, it will have to wait 26 months until the two planets are in proper alignment.
The rover carries a 4 lb drone helicopter named Ingenuity which will be the first instrument of its kind to fly in an alien planet beyond Earth.
Perseverance will land in a 28-mile wide crater called Jezero which at one time contained an ancient lake and river delta.
Perseverance is scheduled to land on Mars on February 18, 2021.