Photo: Gregg Newton / AFP via Getty
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL, February 19, 2021 ~ On July 30, 2020, the Mars Perseverance mission began, sending the program’s rover on a 203-day, 293-million-mile journey to The Red Planet. That journey ended on Thursday, with the team at NASA Mission Control celebrating the rover’s successful touchdown on the planet’s surface.
“This landing is one of those pivotal moments for NASA, the United States, and space exploration globally” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “We know we are on the cusp of discovery and sharpening our pencils, so to speak, to rewrite the textbooks.”
February 19, 2021 ~ Former NASA Engineer and Rocket Scientist Suzy Fulton tells Paul W. that the Perseverance rover landing on Mars was amazing to watch.
The 2,263-pound, car-sized robotic geologist and astrobiologist will go through testing for several weeks before beginning a two-year investigation of Mars’ Jezero Crater. The mission will be the first to collect and cache Martian rock and sediment, characterizing the geology and climate of the 28-mile-wide crater, as well as searching for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover also contains the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on its belly, which will be used to attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.
“Because of today’s exciting events, the first pristine samples from carefully documented locations on another planet are another step closer to being returned to Earth,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA. “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.”
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of a larger NASA approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon, which are designed to help prepare for human exploration of Mars.
February 19, 2021 ~ NASA held a live question and answer session with members of the team that helped get the Perseverance rover to Mars.