NASA nails biggest Mars rover landing in search for ancient life
NASA nails biggest Mars rover landing in search for ancient life
WATCH: Perseverance Lands on Mars Today in '7 Minutes of Terror'
19 February, 2021, 05:57
Perseverance, however, has stronger parachutes and a more precise navigation system than the Curiosity rover, and that managed to land successfully in 2012.
Despite the red planet's wispy atmosphere, engineers hope that Ingenuity's 4-foot rotors, spinning five times faster than the blades of a helicopter on Earth, coupled with the low Martian gravity, will help get it off the ground.
Garan said the rover looking into why there isn't life on Mars now is just as important as looking for signs of life.
Scientists hope to find biosignatures embedded in samples of ancient sediments that Perseverance is created to extract from Martian rock for future analysis back on Earth - the first such specimens ever collected by humankind from another planet. The rover is headed straight for Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient river delta. First, it is the heaviest and most technologically complex rover to land on Mars.
However, you can clearly see the surface of the planet in black and white.
Except for a few brief but expected communications blackouts caused by the superheated air around the craft as it entered the thin Martian atmosphere, the lander sent back a continuous stream of updates to the team on Earth - considerably delayed, of course, by the distance to the other planet. NASA says the 1.8 kilogram vehicle will attempt its first flight in the coming months.
In total there are 23 cameras on Perseverance, some of which will be used to take footage of the rover's landing, otherwise known as the "Seven Minutes of Terror".
Congratulations NASA, and welcome to your new home, Perseverance!
A replica of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover is shown during a press conference ahead of the launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the rover, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. July 29, 2020.
The rover will explore Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient lake that existed 3.9 billion years ago, and search for microfossils in the rocks and soil there. It will take 10 years for the samples to be returned to Earth and NASA.
"The question of whether there's life beyond Earth is one of the most fundamental and essential questions we can ask", said NASA geologist Katie Stack Morgan.
In this illustration provided by Nasa the Perseverance rover fires up its descent stage engines as it nears the Martian surface. This phase of its entry, descent and landing sequence, or EDL, is known as Òpowered descent.Ó Hundreds of critical events must execute perfectly and exactly on time for the rover to land safely on February 18, 2021. If all goes well, the rover will signal its own survival at approximately 3:55 PM EST. Of course, it doesn't have any provisions for passengers, but it does have a bevy of cameras and instruments created to explore and study Mars in greater detail than ever before.
While the mission to return samples from Mars has yet to be fully planned, NASA scientists say that if all goes to plan we could have samples from Mars back on Earth by 2031.
Perseverance's payload also includes demonstration projects that could help pave the way for eventual human exploration of Mars, including a device to convert the carbon dioxide in Mars' atmosphere into pure oxygen. The European Space Agency also has tried and failed.
"Mars is hard, and we never take success for granted", Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science, said at a recent online media briefing.
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