Perseverance Rover Touches Down on Mars



Perseverance, the newest Mars rover, has just touched down on the red planet (photo credit to NASA).

After launching on July 30, 2020, and traveling 293 million miles, Perseverance has finally touched down on Mars.

For the first time ever, there is public footage of a rover landing on Mars. The video begins with the inflation of the rover’s parachute seven miles above Mars’ surface, which is roughly three minutes after the rover entered the planet’s atmosphere. It ends with the rover touching down on the surface.

“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,” said NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk.

After this, we also got a panoramic view of the rover’s landing site. Using its Mastcam-Z instrument, we have a 360-degree view of the Jezero Crater. Using this, scientists can identify geologic history, assess atmospheric conditions, and identify sediment worthy of a closer examination.

“We’re nestled right in a sweet spot, where you can see different features similar in many ways to features found by Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity at their landing sites,” said Jim Bell of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, the Mastcam-Z instrument’s principal investigator. 

NASA states Perseverance’s mission is to search for signs of ancient microbial life. This mission is furthering NASA’s goal to research the past habitability of Mars, which has been a concept scientists have attempted to pursue for many years.

“The concept of life on Mars is so cool. There obviously isn’t anything living there now…But thinking, like, billions of years in the past, they’re totally could’ve been something, right?” said freshman Patrick Shaw.

Along with searching for possible signs of life, Perseverance will also test technologies to help pave the way for future exploration of Mars. These include testing a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, identifying resources such as subsurface water, and improving landing techniques. In addition, attached to Perseverance is Ingenuity, the Mars Helicopter. It will be testing the first powered flight on the Red Planet.

“With the leaps and bounds we’ve made with technology over the years, I don’t doubt a crazy scientific discovery is right around the corner. I can’t wait to see what happens next,” said sophomore Arianne Deirdre.

Perseverance will be staying on Mars for at least one Mars year, or about 687 Earth days. If all goes according to plan, Perseverance will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.