Perseverance, the most technologically advanced robot NASA has sent to date, will remain on Mars for nearly two years, searching for signs of ancient life and exploring the red planet’s surface.
NASA has unveiled the first pictures from its fifth Mars rover, Perseverance, after a successful landing on the red planet’s Jezero crater at approximately 3:55 p.m. Thursday.
“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,” acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said in a press release.
“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.”
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 18, 2021
Perseverance, the most technologically advanced robot NASA has sent to date, traveled 293 million miles to reach Mars over the course of more than six months after launching on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Station on July 30, according to Fox News.
It will remain on Mars for nearly two years, searching for signs of ancient life and exploring the planet’s surface.
The mission will help prepare the agency for future human exploration on Mars in the 2030s.
Perseverance is designed to drive an average of 650 feet per Martian day and features seven scientific instruments, a robotic arm that reaches about seven feet long, a rock drill. It is nuclear powered, using a plutonium generator provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.
— NASA (@NASA) February 18, 2021
Perseverance’s landing involved the “seven minutes of terror,” a fiery atmospheric entry in a protective capsule that involved a parachute-assisted descent. The “seven minutes of terror” is referred to by NASA engineers as the time it takes to enter the Martian atmosphere and descend to the surface.
The spacecraft is guided solely by pre-programmed controls in its onboard computer, due to a roughly 11-minute signal delay between Earth and Mars.