NASA's Perseverance Rover Touches Down on Mars

19 Février, 2021, 05:54 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • WATCH: Perseverance Lands on Mars Today in '7 Minutes of Terror'

The 2,260-pound rover - partly named in recognition of health care heroes due to the COVID-19 pandemic - landed at the Jezero Crater, a carefully-selected location for Perseverance's mission in astrobiology. All three missions lifted off in July to take advantage of the close alignment of Earth and Mars, journeying some 300 million miles in almost seven months. There, it will search for signs of ancient 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. Soon after, a camera returned the first image, showing dust, rocks, and the shadow of the rover looming over the black-and-white martian surface.

All of this imaging technology has a goal: to enable the rover to make its way, under supervision from NASA, around Jezero Crater and examine the ancient rocks and river delta remnants there for signs of ancient microbial life.

NASA's newest rover touched down safely on the surface of Mars at 12:56 p.m. "So yes, humanity is going to mars".

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 there is a helicopter on the belly of the rover. Many previous soft landing attempts on the planet have failed.

This final minuscule portion of the trip is sometimes referred to as 'seven minutes of terror' - not only because of the intricate sequence involved, but also because radio signals take so long to reach Earth that, by the time they've reached us, the landing has already happened.

Perseverance had traveled 292 million miles (470 million kilometers) since launching July 30 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. "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".

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"In Jezero, we have one of the most beautifully preserved delta deposits on Mars in that crater", Katie Stack Morgan, the deputy project scientist for the mission, explains.

Perseverance will stay on the planet for one Mars year, about 687 days here on Earth. "We're really on the verge of being able to potentially answer these enormous questions".

When "Percy" slowed down to a still-supersonic 1,000 miles per hour, its computer deployed a massive, 70.5-foot-wide parachute and then ditched its heat shield after pulling a head-snapping 9 G's-worth of deceleration.

FMI's instruments are part of a Spanish-led consortium called Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA), a Martian weather station.

Perseverance is scheduled to land Thursday afternoon around 3:55 PM EST.

"It is not guaranteed that we will be successful", Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's Science Mission Directorate's associate administrator, acknowledged.

While NASA has done everything possible to ensure success, "there's always this fear that it won't work well, it won't go well", Erisa Stilley, a landing team engineer, said Tuesday.

Nasa and the European Space Agency (Esa) have devised a multi-billion-dollar plan to go fetch these cylinders towards the end of the decade.

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