NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover Safely Lands on Red Planet
The largest, most advanced rover NASA has sent to another world touched down on Mars Thursday, after a 203-day journey traversing 293 million miles. Confirmation of the successful touchdown was announced in mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which Caltech manages for NASA, at 3:55 p.m. EST (12:55 p.m. PST). Packed with groundbreaking technology, the Mars 2020 mission launched July 30, 2020. The Perseverance rover mission marks an ambitious first step in the effort to collect Mars samples and return them to Earth.
About the size of a car, the 2,263-pound rover will undergo several weeks of testing before it begins its two-year science investigation of Mars' Jezero crater. While the rover will investigate the rock and sediment of Jezero's ancient lakebed and river delta to characterize the region's geology and past climate, a fundamental part of its mission is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. To that end, the Mars Sample Return campaign, being planned by NASA and ESA (European Space Agency), will allow scientists on Earth to study samples collected by Perseverance to search for definitive signs of past life using instruments too large and complex to send to the Red Planet.
A primary objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology research, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith, paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.