CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Mars is about to be invaded by planet Earth -- big time.
The U.S., China and the United Arab Emirates are sending spacecraft to Mars in quick succession beginning this week. It's the most sweeping effort yet to seek signs of ancient microscopic life at Mars while scoping out the place for future astronauts.
The most enticing rock samples will be collected by NASA for return to Earth in about a decade. The United Arab Emirates is up first with a Martian orbiter set to launch from Japan on Wednesday, local time.
China is targeting a liftoff around July 23 for its rover and orbiter. The U.S., meanwhile, aims to launch its rover, Perseverance, on July 30.