After nearly seven months of being in flight, the Mars Perseverance Rover touched down on the planet Mars, on February 18th, 2021, in the Jezero Crater. This landing and mission was a historic achievement and a large feat for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The Rover’s 292.5 million mile expedition ended in a successful landing with virtually little issue.
The Mars Perseverance Rover provides many opportunities for scientists to learn more about the floor of Mars. It is the first attempt in the search for signs of life, along with the first recordings for sound on Mars. NASA’s Administrator, Steve Jurczyk, promoted this momentous occasion, saying, “This landing is one of those pivotal moments for NASA, the United States, and space exploration globally.” The Rover will go through several processes over its two-year mission. It will provide images that will be immediately sent to NASA’s site, available for view to the public. The rover also holds a helicopter that works as eyes in the sky, seeking out any signs of life and providing images to be sent back to NASA.
The helicopter, called Ingenuity, will be part of a 10 day process, where the Perseverance Rover places the helicopter down and leaves it alone in freezing temperatures. Ingenuity then prepares for the first administered flight of an object in Mars, which will last around 20 seconds. With this, scientists hope to obtain an up-close and aerial view, allowing for a more in-depth analysis of the rocky Martian floor.
Perseverance, on the other hand, soon begins its trek that will last years, traveling 15 miles at a speed of 0.1 mile per hour. This journey involves the exploration of the Jezero Crater, which was once the site of a lake around 3.9 billion years ago. Here, the rover will search for microfossils that could reside in the rocks and soil. Samples of the ground will be collected, and the plan to return these samples to Earth will not take action until the 2030s. These samples will help provide a valuable insight on the climate and geology of the Red Planet.
Additionally, the rover will try its first attempts to convert carbon dioxide in the air into oxygen. It will do this through the use of instruments, such as MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment). In doing this, NASA scientists could learn more about the process of creating rocket fuel on Mars, as well as scoping for the potential of a human expedition.
Perseverance is a part of a large space mission of Mars by NASA that holds high expectations over the next decade. “The mission itself personifies the human ideal of persevering toward the future and will help us prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet in the 2030s,” Jurczyk stated. Following the successful landing of the Perseverance rover, the idea that humans could one day touch foot on another planet is becoming more like a reality than a dream.
Potter, Sean. “NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Provides First Audio Recording on Mars.” NASA, 22 Feb. 2021, www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-s-mars-perseverance-rover-provides-front-row-seat-to-landing-first-audio. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.
Strickland, Ashley Cnn. “NASA Mars Perseverance Rover Has Successfully Landed.” CNN, 19 Feb. 2021, edition.cnn.com/2021/02/18/world/mars-perseverance-rover-landing-scn-trnd/index.html.