Perseverance made a successful landing on Mars, as was planned. “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. Perseverance traveled 293 million miles to reach Mars over the course of more than six months after launching on July 30. It will remain on Mars for nearly two years. Its mission is to search for signs of ancient life and to explore the planet’s surface. Human exploration on Mars is expected in the 2030s.
The rover is about 10 feet long, 9 feet wide, seven feet tall and about 2,260 pounds, roughly 278 pounds heavier than its predecessor, Curiosity. Perseverance has a camera designed to take high-definition video, panoramic color and 3D images of the Martian surface and features in the atmosphere with a zoom lens to magnify distant targets, a group of sensors to measure weather and monitor dust on the planet’s surface, a system that will be used to produce oxygen from the Martian carbon-dioxide atmosphere and an x-ray and camera system that can measure the chemical makeup of rocks and analyze features as small as a grain of salt. It was equipped with a ground-penetrating radar system to analyze geologic features under Mars’ surface, a group of cameras, spectrometers, and a laser to search for organics and minerals as well as take close up images of rock grains and surface textures, and a camera to identify the chemical composition of rocks and soils, including their atomic and molecular makeup.