PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- For the first time ever, the media was allowed inside NASA's clean room to see the Mars 2020 Rover in person and chat with the team that built it.
"This is like our surrogate children, because there's a lot of hours put in by hundreds of people to build this hardware and we want to make sure when we send it to Mars, it does what it's intended to do," said Michelle Tomey Colizzi, a team member of the Mars 2020 Mission.
The rover's mission is to gather rock and soil samples and return them to Earth. It can crawl about the length of a football field per hour, has six-wheel drive and operates mostly on autopilot.
"We don't joystick the rover necessarily. We will send it a full command list for the day, which will include driving for a little bit, using the science instruments, taking lot of images," said Jessica Samuels, with the Mars 2020 Mission.
All of the equipment will be sent to Cape Canaveral, Florida this February where it will launch as early as this July.
"It'll be pretty emotional. Definitely seeing it come together has been emotional already. But definitely we're all very very excited," said Christopher Chatellier, with the Mars 2020 Mission.
The rover will spend at least two years exploring Mars.