Successful landing

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
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.

READ MORE: NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover: Schedule, How Mission Begins, How to Stream

Mission

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.
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.

MORE STORY: When and How to Watch Mars Landing - Live on - Today

When and How to Watch Mars Landing - Live on - Today When and How to Watch Mars Landing - Live on - Today

NASA’s Perseverance rover is racing toward Mars for a daring high-speed plunge into the Red Planet’s atmosphere Today. Where and How to Watch Mars Landing ...

NASA NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover: Schedule, How Mission Begins, How to Stream

NASA's most sophisticated rover, Perseverance is scheduled to land on Mars to bring the answer of whether life ever existed on the red planet. Here ...

Who is Jim Bridenstine - NASA Administrator? Who is Jim Bridenstine - NASA Administrator?

What do you know about Jim Bridenstine - NASA Administrator who was nominated by President Donald Trump, confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and sworn in ...