Perseverance Lands Safely on Mars

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With the world watching, Perseverance, the most advanced Mars Rover to date, landed safely on the surface of the Red Planet to begin its mission of collecting rock samples and conducting field experiments to determine if ancient life existed.


Travelling more than 300miles, beginning with the July 30, 2020 launch at Cape Canaveral, Florida, over the last seven months, Perseverance began its nearly two year mission at 3:55p.m (EST), February 18, 2021.

As the success of the mission depended on a safe landing, the seven minutes of terror, a common term used to describe the interval when the rover enters Mars' atmosphere, decelerates into the decent, and navigates to the program landing zone.

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Perseverance will be spending approximately one Mars year or 687 earth days, collecting samples in what has been called the most challenging terrain on the Red Planet. The Jezero Crater, a 28-mile-wide former lake basin, where an underground delta, or the remnants of water once flowed.

Scientists are expecting to receive samples which will further the hypothesis that life, or the ability to sustain life, did exist. Scientists have generated computer modules which they believe detect a climate, and planet similar to earth prior to some cataclysmic disaster which resulted in an intense freeze.

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Perseverance has been redesigned to utilize radar, much like automobiles use navigational equipment for hands free driving or locating a hazard, which assist the unit in determining speed and distance during the critical seven minutes or entry, decent and landing phase.

The Lander Vision System, "pings the ground from the time the heat shield comes off (about 4 to 5 miles above the surface) all the way to touchdown. The Lander Vision System, part of the Terrain-Relative Navigation technology, operates when the spacecraft is between about 2.6 to 1.4 miles, above the ground. Terrain-Relative Navigation can change the rover's touchdown point by up to 2,000 feet," according to NASA's JPL Laboratories.

The team at the JPL has set several target goals for this mission.

The number one goal of the Perseverance mission is searching for signs of life. Essentially the rover is expected to confirm the tags or biosignature that water did exist. The second goal is parallel with the primary mission goal. Landing in the Jezero Crater "believes this ancient river delta and lake deposits could have collected and preserved organic molecules and other potential signs of microbial life."

Earth science or Climate, rock and soil, is essentially the third priority for the Perseverance Mission. "Understanding Mars' past climate conditions and reading the geological history embedded in its rocks will give scientists a richer sense of what the planet was like in its distant past. Studying the Red Planet's geology and climate could also give us a sense of why Earth and Mars – despite some early similarities – ended up so different."

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Landing safely, which was also a mission goal, has been completed. A redesigned tool kit, Perseverance unlike the Rover Curiosity, which ground the rock into smaller particles, Perseverance has the ability to core out rock samples and send intact for deconstruction and examination on earth.

Perseverance is essentially self-contained and will act with some level of independence. The Rover "will also have more autonomy on the surface than any other rover, including self-driving smarts that allow it to cover more ground in a day's operations with fewer instructions from engineers on Earth. This fast-traverse capability (courtesy of upgraded sensors, computers, and algorithms) can translate into more science over the length of the mission. What's more, it will make exploration of the Moon, Mars, and other celestial bodies more efficient for other vehicles. "

The first image of MARS rom Perseverance

With 25 cameras attached to the Rover, the most of any mission, the expectation is to gather an expanded catalogue of photographs on the Red Planet's landscape.

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All images courtesy of NASA's JPL Laboratory.

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