NASA sent the largest, most advanced rover to another world on Thursday after traveling 293 million miles (472 million kilometers) on a 203-day journey. Confirmation of a successful touchdown was announced at Mission Control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California at 3:55 p.m. EST (12:55 p.m. PST). Full of groundbreaking technology, the Mars 2020 mission was launched from the Florida Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on July 30, 2020.
The Perseverance Rover mission marks an ambitious first step in an attempt to collect samples of Mars and bring them back to Earth. “This landing is one of the most important moments for NASA, the United States and space exploration around the world,” said the acting NASA administrator.
“The Mars 2020 Perseverance Mission is inspiring even in the challenging circumstances of our country, and embodies the spirit of perseverance in advancing science and research. The mission itself expresses the human ideal for perseverance towards the future and helps to prepare for the human exploration of the Red Planet.” About the size of a car, the 2,263-pound (1,026-kilogram) robotic geologist and astronomer will continue to experiment for several weeks before starting his two-year scientific investigation into the ‘Jezero Crater’ on Tuesday. While the rover will investigate the rocks and sediments of Jezero’s ancient lakebed and river delta to identify the region’s geology and past climate, a fundamental part of its mission includes astronomy, including the search for traces of ancient microbes.
To that end, the Mars Sample Return Campaign, planned by NASA and the ESA (European Space Agency), will allow scientists on Earth to study specimens collected by perseverance in search of specific signs of past life by sending many large and complex instruments. “Because of today’s exciting event, the first ancient specimens from carefully recorded locations on another planet are another step back to Earth,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator of science. “Perseverance is the first step in bringing back rocks and rules from Mars.
We do not know what these ancient specimens of Mars will tell us. But what they can tell us is memorable – life can be out of the world at some point. Situated at the western edge of the Jezero Crater ICIDS Planetary, about 28 miles (45 kilometers) wide, it is a giant basin just north of the Martian Equatorial Zone. Scientists have determined that 3.5 million years ago this hole had its own river delta and it was filled with water.