NASA Perseverance Rover Succesfully Landed on Mars

You can exhale now: NASA’s Perseverance rover has landed safely on Mars.

The car-sized perseverance, the most advanced robot ever sent to the Red Planet, hit a “seven minute terror” touchdown this afternoon (Feb 18), descending slowly at the bottom of an ancient lake within the 28 mile (45 kilometer) wide) Jezero Crater just before 4 o’clock afternoon EST (2100 GMT).

After a series of instrument and hardware checks, Perseverance will begin to do what it has to do across the interplanetary space: hunt for signs of ancient Martian life, collect and store rock samples to return to Earth in the future and demonstrate some sparkling new exploration technology, among others. other. (1)

Enduring blazing heat, the rover was shielded by a protective shell and parachute to help slow itself down. A descent stage with six rocket thrusters fired as it neared the surface, slowing Perseverance to a much calmer 2 mph.

Clutching the rover, the descent stage hovered 66 feet above the surface to execute a “skycrane” maneuver, where it gently lowered Perseverance on a set of cables the rest of the way to the surface.

With its six wheels planted on the surface, the rover snipped the skycrane cables, prompting the rocket-powered descent stage to move itself far away from Perseverance.

The on-time landing at 3:55PM ET marks NASA’s sixth successful landing on the Red Planet. The $2.7 billion rover is essentially a 2,263-pound laboratory on wheels: for the next several years, Perseverance will traverse Mars’ Jezero Crater to collect soil samples for a future retrieval mission, analyze the makeup of Martian rocks with a laser-beaming camera system, and deploy a helicopter named Ingenuity, a four-foot-on wide rotorcraft that will demonstrate the first powered flight on another planet.

Spirits were high during a post-landing press conference. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s top science official, was elated and began his remarks on Perseverance’s landing victory by holding up a printout of the mission’s contingency plan — a blueprint for the team in case the mAission goes awry — and ripping it in half.

“Here’s for the contingency plan!” he said before tearing the paper apart and tossing it behind him, sparking applause in the JPL auditorium. (2)

Photo credit: (3)

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