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NASA Perseverance rover will carry a tribute to health care workers to Mars

A serpent, a rod, the Earth and Mars.

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The tribute to health care workers plaque is visible on the Perseverance rover near the center of this image. 

NASA/JPL-Caltech/KSC

NASA's Perseverance rover is getting ready to launch to Mars in July, and it'll carry some very special messages with it. We already knew about the 11 million names and the statement "explore as one" written in Morse code. NASA revealed last week it'll also take a tribute to health care workers all the way to the red planet.

This plate pays tribute to health care workers and has been installed on the NASA Perseverance Mars rover.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Perseverance team installed a small aluminum plate showing Earth on top of a serpent-wrapped rod, a nod to the ancient Rod of Asclepius symbol for medicine. 

"A line depicting a spacecraft's trajectory rises from Central Florida toward Mars, represented as a small dot in the background," said NASA in a statement.

NASA said the plaque commemorates the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and pays tribute to the perseverance of health care workers around the world.

"We wanted to demonstrate our appreciation for those who have put their personal well-being on the line for the good of others," said Perseverance deputy project manager Matt Wallace. "It is our hope that when future generations travel to Mars and happen upon our rover, they will be reminded that back on Earth in the year 2020 there were such people."  

The space agency is targeting July 20 to launch Perseverance to Mars, which would put it on track for a February 2021 arrival. The rover is set for a busy mission where it'll collect samples, release an experimental helicopter and look for signs of past microbial life.