After a 203-day journey traversing 293 million miles, NASA’s Perseverance Rover landed safely and flawlessly on Mars at 3:55 p.m. ET on 18th February, Thursday to begin its two-year mission on the planet.
It also sent the first images of its landing site, the Jezero Crater, after touchdown.
Launched on 30th July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, this mission is possibly the most ambitious ones by mankind in exploring the Red Planet.
The car-sized Perseverance is one of the most advanced and sophisticated rovers that NASA has built. Weighing over a metric ton, it is also one of the heaviest built by NASA. It will explore the Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient lake that existed 3.9 billion years ago, and search for microfossils in the rocks and soil at the location.
Perseverance is NASA’s ninth landing on Mars and the agency’s fifth rover.
— NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 18, 2021
“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 acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk.
“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 in the 2030s.”
According to NASA, Perseverance is carrying seven instruments to Mars: Mastcam-Z, an advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capability with the ability to zoom; SuperCam, an instrument that can provide imaging, chemical composition analysis, and mineralogy at a distance; Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer and high-resolution imager to map the fine-scale elemental composition of Martian surface materials; Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC), a spectrometer that will provide fine-scale imaging and uses an ultraviolet (UV) laser to map mineralogy and organic compounds; The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE); Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA), a set of sensors that will provide measurements of temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity, and dust size and shape; and The Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX), a ground-penetrating radar that will provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface.
The primary aim of this mission is to understand the geology of Mars better and to assess signs of ancient life and habitability on the planet. It will collect rock and soil samples from the planet that could be returned to Earth. It will also test innovative technology for future robotic and human exploration of Mars.
Along with Perseverance is an experiment to fly a helicopter, called Ingenuity, on another planet for the first time.
This astounding mission for NASA will certainly open up a new chapter in space exploration. What do you think about it? Let us know your thoughts and views in the comments section below.