The rover's mission includes looking for signs of ancient life and collecting rock samples to return to Earth.
In a historic moment, NASA's rover to Mars has successfully landed on the red planet. The landing went on without any troubles and the Perseverance rover completed its journey of over 293 million miles or 472 million kilometres flawlessly. The journey lasted for over six months with the launch happening in the midst of the global pandemic on July 30, 2020, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. "Percy" as the rover is affectionately called, live-streamed its landing and sent its first images of the landing site back. The rover will allow us to study our neighboring planet in more depth.
I’m safe on Mars. Perseverance will get you anywhere.— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 18, 2021
Perseverance touched down on Jezero Crater on Mars at 3:55 p.m. ET Thursday as confirmed by NASA. The rover's mission includes looking for signs of ancient life and collecting samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) return them to Earth. “This landing is one of those pivotal moments for NASA, the United States, and space exploration globally – when we know we are on the cusp of discovery and sharpening our pencils, so to speak, to rewrite the textbooks,” acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk stated. “The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission embodies our nation’s spirit of persevering even in the most challenging of situations, inspiring, and advancing science and exploration. The mission itself personifies the human ideal of persevering toward the future and will help us prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.”
NASA has in the past landed other projects successfully. This $2.7 billion robotic explorer, on the other hand, has on it a much more sophisticated set of scientific tools for planetary exploration. Perseverance will be joining two other spacecrafts, Hope from the United Arab Emirates and Tianwen-1 from China, that were also launched to Mars just this month, reported The New York Times. Unlike the other two spacecraft that are orbiting Mars, however, Perseverance zipped directly onto the surface of the planet. Since Mars is currently 126 million miles from Earth it takes radio signals 11 minutes to reach us. The mission team was worried about the rover landing in one piece.
When the landing sequence was sent to Earth, the rover was already on Mars for four minutes. Thankfully, the 2,263-pound rover that is almost the size of a car had managed to land safely. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA said, “Because of today’s exciting events, the first pristine samples from carefully documented locations on another planet are another step closer to being returned to Earth. Perseverance is the first step in bringing back rock and regolith from Mars. We don’t know what these pristine samples from Mars will tell us. But what they could tell us is monumental – including that life might have once existed beyond Earth.”
President Joe Biden called Jurczyk and congratulated him, reported CNN. He even tweeted, "Congratulations to NASA and everyone whose hard work made Perseverance's historic landing possible. Today proved once again that with the power of science and American ingenuity, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility."
Congratulations to NASA and everyone whose hard work made Perseverance’s historic landing possible. Today proved once again that with the power of science and American ingenuity, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility. pic.twitter.com/NzSxW6nw4k— President Biden (@POTUS) February 18, 2021
Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division stated, “Perseverance is the most sophisticated robotic geologist ever made, but verifying that microscopic life once existed carries an enormous burden of proof. While we’ll learn a lot with the great instruments we have aboard the rover, it may very well require the far more capable laboratories and instruments back here on Earth to tell us whether our samples carry evidence that Mars once harbored life.”
After 203 days and 300 million miles, our @NASAPersevere landed on Mars at 3:55 p.m. EST on Feb. 18. After spending some time checking out its systems, it'll be rolling across the Red Planet, looking for signs of ancient Martian life. https://t.co/3Tr7doXdJS pic.twitter.com/FhwoXz5l4n— NASA (@NASA) February 19, 2021