Yesterday, around 2 p.m. MST, NASA’s Perseverance became the seventh rover from Earth and fifth from NASA to land on Mars. NASA has previously sent the rovers Sojourner (1997), Spirit (2004), Opportunity (2004) and Curiosity (2012). There have also been two Russian rovers, Mars 2 and Mars 3, both of which failed upon arrival. Just as all the rovers and probes that have come before, Perseverance is set to make history, explore the red planet and bring new light to scientific questions about our universe.
Perseverance’s primary goal is to search for evidence of ancient microbial life and collect soil and rock samples that will one day return to Earth. Perseverance, or Percy, will also test a new technology coined the Mars Helicopter Ingenuity, testing the first powered flight on another planet. In addition to looking for life and ferrying Ingenuity, Percy will strive to conduct research allowing future humans to explore Mars in person by experimenting with Oxygen production, studying weather patterns and looking for subsurface water.
Fun Fact: The rover's entry, descent and landing (EDL) system uses a technology called a sky crane, which is essentially a crane attached to a rocket pack to more accurately drop the rover onto the Martian Surface.
Percy’s mission is aimed to last at least one Mars year (687 Earth days), but it could last much longer depending on the environment it lands in. Currently, the NASA Mars rover Opportunity holds the record for the longest Martian mission. Lasting more than 15 years from January 25, 2004, until it lost contact on June 10, 2018, NASA declared the mission complete on February 13, 2019. At the time of lost contact, Opportunity (Oppi) sent a final message, “My battery is low and it’s getting dark,” making headlines around the globe.
Fun Fact: Every year on its birthday, NASA’s Curiosity sings Happy Birthday to itself.
While Perseverance is the newest Martian it won’t be alone. Curiosity, the most recent addition to the red planet, is still actively doing research. While the two rovers won’t work side by side, they will still have each other! To learn more about Perseverance, Curiosity, Ingenuity or to explore Mars more, check out this website.
If you enjoyed the photo above, check out this page to see thousands of beautiful, free to download images taken by NASA's Reconnaissance Orbiter since its arrival to the red planet in March of 2006.