NASA’s robotic rover Perseverance entered Mars’ atmosphere on Thursday afternoon and landed on the surface of the Red Planet. The landing took seven minutes. The rover has landed at the bottom of a dried-up ancient lake, where American scientists plan to look for possible traces of life on Mars.
Perseverance, the most advanced astrobiology laboratory ever launched into space, landed in the vast rocky basin of Jezero Crater, at the edge of a Martian river delta that dried up billions of years ago.
Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, near Los Angeles, received confirmation of the rover’s landing and the first images around 20:55 GMT. The information was transmitted to Earth from one of several satellites already in Martian orbit.
The primary goal of the $ 2.7 billion Perseverance project is to find ancient microbes and other signs of biological life that may have existed on Mars about 3 billion years ago.
The descent of the device became the most risky stage of the Perseverance rover’s seven-month journey to a distance of 472 million km from Earth. The multistage spacecraft that brought the rover to the surface of the Red Planet pierced the Martian atmosphere at a speed of 19,000 km per hour.
Immediately after that, Perseverance quickly performed a complex series of independent maneuvers to slow down the descent by deploying a supersonic parachute and landing smoothly on all six wheels using a special device – a sky crane.
The rover, the size of an off-road vehicle, weighs 1 ton and is equipped with a robotic mechanical arm two meters long, equipped with 19 cameras, two microphones and a whole set of tools necessary for its goals. The Perseverance mission will last for several years. The rover will try to collect 30 rock and soil samples and pack them into test tubes that will be sent to Earth for laboratory analysis in the 2030s.
President Joe Biden hailed the successful landing of the Perseverance rover, describing it as a testament to scientific advancement and “American ingenuity.”
“Congratulations to NASA and to all those whose hard work made the historic landing of Perseverance possible. Today has proved once again that nothing is impossible thanks to the power of science and American ingenuity, ”the president wrote on his Twitter account.
“The question of whether there is life beyond Earth is one of the most fundamental and important,” said Katie Stack Morgan, a NASA geologist in an interview with Agence France-Presse.
NASA is also planning to conduct several other interesting experiments on Mars, including the Ingenuity project, an attempt at the first ever unmanned aerial vehicle to be launched on another planet.
Perseverance became the fifth rover to land on the Red Planet. All rover launch missions, the first of which were completed in 1997, were carried out by NASA. However, after a while, the first Chinese rover on board the Tianwen-1 spacecraft may land on the planet’s surface. On February 11 it became known that “Tianwen-1” entered the orbit of Mars. If all goes according to plan, in a few months China will become the second country to make such an expedition.