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Success! NASA’s Perseverance Rover Has Triumphantly Landed on Mars

  • NASA’s Perseverance rover landed safely in Jezero Crater today at 4:55 p.m. ET.
  • This Mars mission is NASA’s most ambitious yet and sets the stage more a decade-long mission to retrieve geologic samples.
  • The rover is set to hunt for evidence of ancient life, launch a helicopter and test a method of generating oxygen from the Martian atmosphere.

    Update 4:10 p.m. ET: Touchdown! NASA’s Perseverance rover has survived its “seven minutes of terror” and safely landed on Mars. It’s already taking incredible pictures.

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    Today’s the day! After a nearly 7-month journey, NASA’s Perseverance rover is finally scheduled to land on Mars. Fully loaded with seven science instruments and a whopping 23 cameras, Perseverance is sure to shed new light on the Red Planet.

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    If all goes according to plan, the rover will safely touch down in Jezero Crater at 3:55 p.m. ET. A live stream of the events will begin at 2:15 p.m. ET on all of NASA’s social media channels, but you can watch it right here:

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    NASA launched Perseverance last July. The rover has since spent the last 6.5 months cruising through space. Starting in August, NASA began conducting health checks on all of the instruments onboard the spacecraft. The agency has since booted up the Ingenuity helicopter and tested the Entry, Descent, and Landing microphone.

    Landing on Mars may be the most challenging part of the mission. Dubbed the “seven minutes of terror,” the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) sequence—the distance it takes the rover to get from the top of Mars’s atmosphere to its surface—is particularly difficult because the rover will slow from speeds of almost 12,500 miles per hour to zero. Everything has to go just right.

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    Fortunately, Perseverance has a brand new set of tools that should help the rover avoid major obstacles and land safely. Range Trigger will help Percy estimate its distance from its landing site and deploy the parachutes at the appropriate time. Terrain-Relative Navigation, meanwhile, will help the rover calculate its altitude and, if needed, make adjustments to find the perfect landing spot.

    Researchers hope the rover’s landing site, Jezero Crater, will reveal insight about Mars’s geologic history and provide clarity on one of the most important questions: Are we alone?

    Jezero Crater is home to an ancient river delta, and scientists believe it may be the best place to hunt for evidence of ancient microbial life. Specifically, they’ll be looking for a type of rock formation called a stromatolite. These bulbous features are composed of layer upon layer of microbial mats and form in environments similar to what Jezero Crater might have looked like millions of years ago.

    In addition to searching for traces of ancient life, Perseverance will launch one of NASA’s most ambitious projects: the Ingenuity helicopter. If successful, Ingenuity will become the first ever rotorcraft to soar through the skies on another planet. Over the course of one month, the helicopter is scheduled to perform a series of test hops that could take it as far as 1,000 feet and to heights of up to 15 feet.


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    Several other critical projects on Perseverance will reshape our understanding of the Red Planet. The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) is designed to suck thin, carbon-dioxide laden air into an electrolysis system and pump out oxygen. It’s a revolutionary technology that could help to someday fill Martian astronauts’ lungs and fuel their rockets. Also on board: two microphones that will, for the first time ever, record audio and fulfill a decades-long mission to capture the sounds of Mars.

    Ultimately, Perseverance will set the stage for a nearly decade-long mission to return geologic samples to Earth. NASA, the European Space Agency, and other partners are developing several other spacecraft that will land on Mars, stow the samples Percy has collected, and return them to Earth. The prized rock samples should arrive home in 2031.

    Can’t get enough Percy? NASA has developed an interactive map to track the rover once it lands.


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