Perseverance Rover Sends First Pictures After Landing Safe On Mars

NASA’s Perseverance Rover spacecraft sent to earth first images of the landing site after landing on Mars safe and as planned.

After a 472 million kilometers long journey from Earth that started 203 days ago, the science robot touched down in a deep crater near the planet’s equator called Jezero at the scheduled time.

“We are in a nice flat spot. The vehicle is only tilted by about 1.2 degrees,” said Allen Chen, who led the landing team. “So we did successfully find that parking lot and have a safe rover on the ground. And I couldn’t be more proud of my team for doing that.”

Confirmation of the successful touchdown was announced at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, where the mission is managed, at 3:55 p.m. EST, Thursday.

“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,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk.

NASA published a black and white picture of the flat surface of the landing site of Jezero Crater, which shows the rover’s shadow on it. The photo, taken by low-resolution engineering cameras, was shared on Twitter.

NASA said that the Mars Entry, Descent, and Landing Instrumentation 2 (MEDLI2) sensor suite collected data about Mars’ atmosphere during entry, and the Terrain-Relative Navigation system autonomously guided the spacecraft during final descent. The data from both are expected to help future human missions land on other worlds more safely and with larger payloads.

About the size of a car, the 1,026-kilogram robotic geologist and astrobiologist will undergo several weeks of testing before it begins its two-year science investigation to find signs of past life on Mars’ Jezero Crater.

While the rover will investigate the rock and sediment of Jezero’s ancient lake bed and river delta to characterize the region’s geology and past climate, a fundamental part of its mission is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life.

The 28-miles wide Jezero Crater sits on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, a giant impact basin north of the Martian equator. Scientists have determined that 3.5 billion years ago the crater had its own river delta and was filled with water.

“While we’ll learn a lot with the great instruments we have aboard the rover, it may very well require the far more capable laboratories and instruments back here on Earth to tell us whether our samples carry evidence that Mars once harbored life,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division.

President Joe Biden Jurczyk to congratulate him and the NASA team involved in the mission. “Today proved once again that with the power of science and American ingenuity, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility,” he said on Twitter.

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