MELBOURNE, Fla. – NASA's new Mars rover just arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, in preparation for a summer launch.

  • Mars rover arrives at KSC ahead of summer launch
  • The mission will provide a closer study of the Red Planet
  • Students at West Shore Junior Senior High are excited about the mission
  • RELATED: Upcoming Launch Schedule

The Mars 2020 rover mission's goal is to go further that previous visits to the Red Planet.

Its drill will collect core samples of promising rocks and soil, put them to the side to be collected, preserved and brought back to Earth on later trips. The mission includes working to determine if life ever existed on the planet, studying its climate and geology, and preparing for human exploration by testing the oxygen level of the atmosphere.

While the rover mans the ground, its partner will take to the air. NASA's Mars Helicopter will become the first aircraft to fly on another planet. If it's successful, the tiny, twin-rotor, solar-powered craft will investigate tough terrain like cliffs, caves and deep craters–paving the way for a role as a scout for future human missions.

The landscape is certainly red in Mrs. Whitacre's class at West Shore Junior Senior High School in Melbourne.

"They can go home and watch it, they can read about it," Whitacre said.

Whitacre said the real world, or off-world learning opportunities for her kids couldn't be timed better.

"It's their future," she said. "Something they could possibly do when they grow up."

For 8th grader Shaun Currier, studying the Red Planet, is not only fun, but important. Especially since NASA is about to send their brand new rover to Mars.

"It was a better improvement from their last one because it has a longer ability to be on Mars and able to take in more data," the 14 year old said. "I would definitely like to work for a space program on ships, or even go into space to work on stuff."

The Atlas V launch of the Mars 2020 Rover mission is set for July 17 from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The rover is expected to arrive at Mars in February 2021.

NASA says the time is ideal for an Earth to Mars trip using less power, and landing on the Red Planet.