NASA Perseverance Rover sends back first images from Mars

  • NASA Perseverance Rover sends back first images from Mars

NASA Perseverance Rover sends back first images from Mars

Perseverance is now set for its mission as Earth's fifth rover on Mars.

Now that it has landed safely, the rover will begin looking for ancient signs of life.

Percy, as it is nicknamed, was created to drill down with its seven-foot (two-meter) arm and collect rock samples that might hold signs of bygone microscopic life.

Cheering but, in accordance with COVID-19 precautions not (as they normally would) hugging each other, the team celebrated the landing and soon were treated to the first images sent back from the rover.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter relayed data from the rover throughout landing.

"That gives our vehicle eyes, and the ability to really see where she's going and figure out where she is", said Chen.

NASA says there is a helicopter on the belly of the rover. Perseverance will essentially have that short period to go from traveling in excess of 12,000mph to landing-the seven minutes is how much time will elapse between it entering Mars' atmosphere until landing, and it'll have to manage that landing on its own.

Success depends on a nail-biting "seven minutes of terror" entry, descent and landing, or EDL, sequence that must be completed flawlessly and without intervention from Earth-bound engineers. A helicopter and two microphones make the rover the most technologically advanced robot that NASA has ever sent to Mars.

The $2.7 billion mission, known as Mars 2020, launched July 30 of previous year on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5.

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.

Perseverance will stay on the planet for one Mars year, about 687 days here on Earth.

NASA scientists describe Perseverance as the most ambitious of almost 20 U.S. missions to Mars dating back to a 1965 Mariner fly-by.

In this illustration provided by Nasa the Perseverance rover fires up its descent stage engines as it nears the Martian surface.

The landing was the most challenging and technically complex ever attempted on Mars, which has claimed the robotic lives of roughly half the crafts seeking its surface.

The second image transmitted to Earth after the landing, with the rover's wheel visible at right.

The red planet contains 12 kilometers of liquid water below its surface, Bridenstine explained, "and we know that the methane cycles of Mars match the seasons of Mars".

"It's full of the stuff that scientists want to see but stuff that I don't want to land on", Al Chen, head of JPL's descent and landing team, told reporters on Wednesday. And, unlike the similar schedule used for Curiosity-Perseverance's predecessor that landed in 2012-engineers and scientists will largely work from home because of social distancing guidelines.

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. It's about the size of a small auto and it's been created to be sturdy enough to last for years in Mars' extreme environment.

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

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 the Martian atmosphere into pure oxygen.