NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover made a historic landing on Mars on 18th February 2021, the one that the generations to come are going to remember as the turning point of Mars’ exploration. The confirmation of the successful landing of NASA’s latest Mars Mission was received at 20:55 UTC. Launched on 30th July 2020, Perseverance Rover took a little over 6 months to reach its destination.
This rover is roughly around the size of a car and has been assigned the task of exploring the Jezero Crater of Mars. The news of its landing was a moment of celebration for the scientists as well as people watching its live progress. The landing of this rover was not just a moment of joy for the NASAs scientists but also a lesson that perseverance indeed pays off.
The seven-month-long journey of Mars Perseverance Rover was a success
“Touchdown confirmed. Perseverance is safely on the surface of Mars,” Swati Mohan, a woman part of the engineering team exclaims. The seventh month-long journey of the Rover from July 30 to Feb 18 tested everyone’s patience but in the end, it is all worth it.
The Rover was tightly packed inside a protective shell with its wheels tucked inside. The arms were folded, and wrapped underneath it all was its drone-like helicopter named ‘Ingenuity’.
The moments just before its landing were very crucial. The Rover was coming down to Mars at the speed of 12,100 miles per hour. It slowed down to 1000 miles once it reached the planet’s atmosphere. A parachute was then unfurled which further slowed the speed to 200 miles per hour.
Watch the stunning videos and audios recorded by Perseverance Rover of the Red Planet
The parachute alone is not sufficient as the air of Mars is too thin. The Rover initiated a lot of pre-programmed steps to further slow itself down.
Once there, it got rid of the parachute and the heat-shield and in the last step it was helped by a device that works like a ‘sky crane’. This slowed down its speed to 17 miles per hour. These carefully planned maneuvers helped it to land successfully on Mars. The long and breath-taking process of the successful landing of the rover has left everyone excited. Cameras and microphones were attached to the body of the rover and its landing has been recorded.
The Mission of this Rover is the beginning of a New Era
The most recent Rover on the red planet has followed the steps of ‘Curiosity’ launched way back in 2012 and ‘InSight’ launched in 2018. It is a piece of stationary equipment tasked with studying the inner surface of Mars.
The Perseverance Rover has been dubbed as the most ambitious Mars project of NASA since 1965. It so far contains the most number of equipment as compared to the last four Mars Rovers. The Mission of the groundbreaking device is to find more knowledge on the lines that have been discovered earlier. It has been tasked with four main missions or objectives.
The prime purpose of the Rover will be to check whether the atmosphere of Mars can support microbial life.
The next goal would be to look for biosignatures and any signs of microbial life. This includes looking for rocks that are capable of preserving signs of microbial life.
Further, the Rover is designed to collect samples of these rocks and soils and leave them for future experiments. This Caching of samples will be followed by the next goal- Perseverance Rover will check whether oxygen is present in the atmosphere of Mars. This will be done with the aim of preparing Mars for humans.
If the Perseverance Rover emerges triumphant in all its missions, it might lead to humans landing on Mars.
“It really is the beginning of a new era,” said Thomas Zurbuchen who is the associate administrator for science at NASA.
NASA’s Perseverance first 100 days on Mars crucial.
Some very exciting events are in line for this rover, this includes looking for signs of previous life among others. The first 4-5 days will be a bit laid back. Like any explorer, it will take some sample photos of the surroundings and send them home.
Over the course of the next 5 days, it will then check whether all its equipment is functioning well and take some rest “to recharge the batteries until the next day on Mars,” as explained by Jennifer Trosper who is the deputy project manager for this mission.
During the next 50 days, it will launch a mini- drone-like helicopter. The Rover will be recording videos and photos of this. These 60-100 days are the most crucial as they will determine whether this whole mission was a success or a failure.
“Once the helicopter is done, many of our science instruments will be ready to go,” says Stack Morgan, the deputy project scientist. The rover will collect samples from the crater which will help in further research. The samples collected by ‘Perseverance Rover’ will be left in an object shaped like a cigar.
These objects containing samples will be collected later on by another mission and brought back to earth. These samples will be very helpful in determining the information regarding life on Mars. Some other instruments such as MOXIE, MEDA, RIMFAX will be left on the surface of Mars to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, measure the weather and look for water/ice.
The successful landing on Mars after a seven-month journey was celebrated with excitement among the scientific community. Loaded with many types of equipment, this Rover has been tasked with four main missions. Its objective is to look for a habitable environment, collect microbial signs of life, collect samples of rocks and soils and leave it there for further missions and check for signs of oxygen.