NASA’s Mars Rover, Perseverance, has successfully landed on the red planet! Perseverance, that was launched on July 30, 2020, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, reached its destination after a 203-day journey covering 293 million miles.
The 2,263-pound Mars rover’s mission is to investigate the Jezero crater on Mars. Perseverance will examine the rock and sediment of Jezero’s ancient lakebed and river delta to characterize the region’s geology and past climate.
Perseverance’s official twitter account, that appears to give it a human personality, tweeted throughout the touchdown and its aftermath.
And this gem of a tweet, that can only elicit an “Awww!”
“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,” he explained.
In a press release, NASA explained how the data collected by Perseverance will be used. “Mars Sample Return campaign, being planned by NASA and ESA (European Space Agency), will allow scientists on Earth to study samples collected by Perseverance to search for definitive signs of past life using instruments too large and complex to send to the Red Planet,” said NASA.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA, explained, “Perseverance is the first step in bringing back rock and regolith from Mars. We don’t know what these pristine samples from Mars will tell us. But what they could tell us is monumental – including that life might have once existed beyond Earth.” According to NASA, the Jezero crater is approximately 28 miles wide, and is located on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, a giant impact basin just north of the Martian equator. The NASA press release says, “Scientists have determined that 3.5 billion years ago the crater had its own river delta and was filled with water,” adding, “Perseverance will scour the Jezero region for fossilized remains of ancient microscopic Martian life, taking samples along the way.”
*Feature image of Perseverance Landing courtest NASA (Public Domain image).