How NASA's Perseverance rover makes history land on Mars - Video
The spacecraft’s journey to the red planet was a success, extending the American record of safe landings there to six, according to CNET.
NASA landed a new robotic rover on Mars on Thursday, its most ambitious effort in decades to directly study whether there was ever life on the red planet.
|Perseverance released two images after its successful landing on Thursday.Credit...NASA TV|
While the agency has landed other missions on Mars, the $2.7 billion robotic explorer named Perseverance carries a sophisticated set of scientific tools that will bring advanced capabilities to the search for life beyond our planet.
Perseverance was the third robotic visitor from Earth to arrive at the red planet this month. Last week, two other spacecraft, Hope from the United Arab Emirates and Tianwen-1 from China, entered orbit around Mars.
But NASA’s spacecraft did not go into orbit first. Instead it zipped along a direct path to the surface.
Mars is currently 126 million miles from Earth. Radio signals, traveling at the speed of light, take more than 11 minutes to travel from there to here. That means that when the message announcing the start of the landing sequence reached Earth, the rover had already been on Mars for four minutes. The only uncertainty was whether it was safe there in one piece, or crashed into many pieces, another human-made crater on the surface of Mars, BBC reported.
|By Jonathan Corum | Image by NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, European Space Agency, German Aerospace Center, Freie Universität Berlin and Justin Cowart. Inset image by NASA and J.P.L.|
Back on Mars, Perseverance is expected to take soil samples it can cache and leave on the surface for a future Mars mission to collect. This sample return would be the first of its kind from the red planet. "That's like the coolest thing ever," says Bonnie Teece, a Ph.D. candidate at the Australian Centre for Astrobiology. "There's still things we can't do from far away, and questions we can only answer with samples from Mars here on Earth." A Russia-led sample return mission was attempted in 2011, but the spacecraft never made it to orbit.
Perseverance launched on July 30, 2020, beneath the early morning sun of the Florida coast aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V. It spent the last seven months traveling from Earth to Mars, shielded from the harsh environment of space within the Mars 2020 spacecraft.
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