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Artist's illustration of the Perseverance rover on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's next Mars rover, expected to launch to the Red Planet in July, is officially named Perseverance.

The big picture: Once on Mars, the mission is designed to search out possible signs of past life on the planet and cache samples for a future mission to return back to Earth one day.

Details: The name — suggested by Virginia seventh-grader Alexander Mather — and eight other finalists were voted on by members of the public. Those results were then submitted to NASA for review.

  • The rover joins other Mars spacecraft that have been named by the public, including Opportunity, Spirit, Sojourner and Curiosity.
  • Opportunity's nickname was Oppy during its time working on Mars, so perhaps Perseverance will earn the nickname Percy in that same style.

What's next: Perseverance is now being checked out ahead of launch at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

  • If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft should land on Mars in the planet's Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.
  • That landing site is thought to be one of the best places to hunt for signs of past life on the Red Planet.

Go deeper: Where to hunt for life on Mars

Go deeper

Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at 93

Walter Mondale, left, with former President Jimmy Carter in Jan. 2018 at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota's campus in Minneapolis. Photo: Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Walter Mondale, who transformed the role of U.S. vice president while serving under Jimmy Carter and was the Democratic nominee for president in 1984, died Monday at 93, according to a family spokesperson.

The big picture: President Biden, who was mentored by Mondale through the years, said in 2015 that the former vice president gave him a "roadmap" to successfully take on the job.

White House removes Trump-appointed scientist from overseeing climate report

U.S. President Joe Biden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has removed Trump-appointed atmospheric scientist Betsy Weatherhead from her role overseeing a comprehensive report on how climate change is affecting the U.S., the Washington Post first reported Monday.

Why it matters: Weatherhead has not been fired — merely reassigned to the U.S. Geological Survey — the move represents an effort by the Biden administration to remove Trump-era appointees from scientific roles, per CNN.

25 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Congress, White House brace for Chauvin verdict

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are anxious as the nation awaits the verdict in former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial, fearing a not-guilty decision could exacerbate racial tensions and spark a new wave of riots.

Why it matters: Leaders on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are trying to figure out how to calibrate any personal or legislative response, while also acknowledging how the final outcome in Chauvin's murder trial in the death of George Floyd could affect their district and them politically.