Perseverance Rover Lands On Mars


NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars on Thursday afternoon, 203 days after it launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station aboard a ULA Atlas V 541 rocket. The 2,263-pound rover is on a two-year mission to look for signs of ancient microbial life along with collecting samples of rock and regolith from Mars’ Jezero Crater. As shown in the video below, NASA and ESA are planning a coordinated mission to retrieve samples gathered by Perseverance and return them to Earth by 2031.

“Landing on Mars is always an incredibly difficult task and we are proud to continue building on our past success,” said NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Director Michael Watkins. “We built the rover not just to land but to find and collect the best scientific samples for return to Earth, and its incredibly complex sampling system and autonomy not only enable that mission, they set the stage for future robotic and crewed missions.”

Perseverance is powered by a multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator (MMRTG) and equipped with seven primary science instruments including a weather station, laser micro-imager, subsurface radar, X-ray and ultraviolet spectrometers and zoomable panoramic camera suite. Tagging along with Perseverance is the Mars Helicopter technology demonstrator, with which NASA is aiming to test powered flight on Mars for the first time.

Video: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. How much did that drill cost? Elementary science shows that life needs bacteria and bacteria needs living things to survive. No life – no bacteria. Picking numbers of years into the Billions is even more outrageous. If that were true, any evidence of life would be “mountain high,” and not waiting around for your little drill to come along. To believe that physical life exist outside the realm of the earth takes more faith than accepting the creation account.

    • As for any evidence of life on Mars, I’d rather be able to discover the source of the oil leak on my Continental C90. But I’m fascinated by the success of the technology that gets these rovers to Mars. Just not sure spending money on this kind of entertainment is really worth it.

      Kate I’ll bet you didn’t count on theology coming out of the commentary woodwork on this story. But then you’ve gotten used to truth being stranger than fiction. Haven’t we all?

      Don, I suppose the degree to which “the creation account” (which one by the way?) is acceptable depends on whether one thinks the accounts were intended to be scientific “how-it-happened” accounts or stories establishing theological context. And that relates to whether one thinks the earth is flat or round.

    • Don is correct but I would add that God could create life on other planets in any time frame He chooses. It’s possible that there was life on Mars and it’s possible we could find it.

      With that said it’s intellectually interesting, but I don’t think an effective use of taxpayer dollars.

  2. “To believe that physical life exist outside the realm of the earth takes more faith than accepting the creation account.”
    Politely, that’s the craziest assertion I’ve ever seen in this space.
    Yet strangely fascinating…

  3. This is superb engineering surrounded by breathtaking BS. The yearning to find alien life is strong, but look, a too-small planet that can’t hold a significant atmosphere and too far from the sun and therefore too cold. Even if it was warmer before because the sun was hotter that would thin the atmosphere further. Planets don’t shrink, they grow. It was never any bigger. Any life on mars had to fall from space and surely died there. We just got lucky.

    • I believe the premise of the exploration for this particular mission is to search for the fossilized and/or chemical remains of life from Mars distant past when it was supposedly wetter, warmer and had a much stronger magnetic field.

      • In order to be “wetter” you need liquid water that doesn’t boil off because it is sitting in a near vacuum. I know people have pointed to the ice caps and exclaimed “ICE”! but that’s DRY ice up there. Not very useful. I have also heard this strange magnetic field argument. Magnetic fields have no effect on neutral atoms or molecules and couldn’t possibly retain gas under pressure. Am I the only one who was listening in science class? Maybe those classes have been replaced by Advanced Propaganda studies. Sad.

        • I like to see people “kick the tires” and put ideas to the test. If not, ideas are just blind credulity.

        • Maybe do some reading on statistical mechanics and the relevant time constants of atmospheric escape mechanisms before commenting on everyone else’s science knowledge?

          • “statistical mechanics and the relevant time constants of atmospheric escape mechanisms”
            Yeah, that’ll get my mind right. Thanks.

        • Not sure what science class you were attending, but they might have left out a few important details. First, there is actual water on Mars. Yes, there is CO2 “snow” that covers the poles in the Martian winter, but one of our landers confirmed the presence of frozen water in the soil beneath that snow. For that matter, we have also confirmed that water exists on the moon, a discovery that opens many possibilities for a lunar exploration base.

          Also, the presence of a magnetic field is literally why life exists on earth. It forms a protective shield that deflects the solar wind and charged solar particles that would otherwise blow our thin atmosphere away. It appears that Mars had a magnetic field at some point in the past, but it faded and the sun stripped most of the atmosphere, and liquid water away. The finding of prehistoric bacteria in dried up rivers and lake beds on Mars would show that life had begun to form there before the environment became too hostile for more complex organisms. It’s all pieces to a puzzle that will help mankind’s understanding of how solar systems like ours formed.

          • “First, there is actual water on Mars.”
            Are you sure? Would you go on a one-way trip and bet your life on it?
            The atmospheric pressure on Mars is 1/150th that on Earth. Liquid water would boil vigorously at anything much above 32 degrees F (your blood too) so, no liquid water. Ice maybe, but it’s hiding well. Looks pretty bare after a couple of feet of dry ice boil off (sublime, whatever) each year.
            I’ve actually heard claims of “oceans” on Mars. That must have been before it lost its gravity. Not sure how that happens.
            As I started out, Superb engineering feat surrounded by BS.

        • “Did I miss anything?”

          Well, with all due respect, if you cited an estimate for the kilograms of atmospheric gas loss for a Mars-sized body per unit time, then you’d on the first step to “getting your mind right” about the relevant physics behind this problem.

          Details such as how a planet’s magnetic field interacts with gas ionized by the sun, and how that affects escape rates, might take more than 5 minutes of reading to master.

          • “I’ve actually heard claims of “oceans” on Mars. That must have been before it lost its gravity.”

            Huh? Who said anything about losing gravity? Mars has the same gravitational pull it has always had. Gravity has no effect on the presence of water on a planet. Ever heard of comets? Often referred to as “dirty snowballs” in space. They are an amalgam of rock, dust and water ice. Their gravitational pull is a tiny fraction of Mars’s gravity. When a comet approaches the sun, the solar particles cause some of the ice to vaporize, forming the comet’s tail. That tail always points away from the sun because the solar wind blows it that direction. And, comets have existed for millions, or even billions of years in the vacuum of space, only losing some of their ice when they come closer to the sun. So, yes, if the scientific instruments say they found water on Mars, I believe them. Same as the ice on the Moon. I find it interesting that you like the engineering aspect of building and landing a probe on Mars, but then dismiss the probe’s findings as BS. If you don’t believe the science, then what’s the point?

  4. I just hope the batteries hold out – it seems they always fail just before the rover scales that small hill surrounding the Martian colony.

    • I assume you’re joking but the record of the three most previous rovers is actually pretty impressive.
      The twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landed in different regions, January 2003. Both were expected to explore for 90 days.
      Spirit remained active for 6 years nine months and traveled 5 miles… only a half mile was expected.
      Opportunity remained active for 14 years and traveled 28 miles.

      Rover Curiosity landed in August 2012. The initial expectation was for a 2 year mission. 9 years later, it is still in operation.

  5. It’s exploration, part of the visceral need to know and I for one, am excited by the Perseverance’s journey. Each step to leave our Earthly confines creates knowledge and understanding that one day, hopefully, will lead to space travel as commonplace as air travel. It won’t happen in my lifetime, or even my children’s, but through dedication to science, engineering and the pursuit of knowledge, it will occur. Watching all of the young people working on this mission serves to reinforce my belief that our future is in capable hands.

    • I too am delighted that the mission has successfully landed. JPL and their partners have given us some tremendous insights to the planets in our solar system through the deep space probes we have sent to Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and even Pluto. And, they have done so at a fraction of the cost to send humans to those alien and deadly locations. Don’t get me wrong, I also support manned space exploration, but our ability to do robotic exploration is essential to even making manned missions possible. If you view these missions as expensive entertainment, you are missing the point. Every mission expands our understanding of astrophysics and how some of it explains the formation of our own planet. Humans are explorers by nature. Going to Mars makes as much sense as going to the bottom of the oceans or breaking the sound barrier, or even an expedition to the South Pole. The knowledge gained will pay dividends to future generations as they continue the exploration of space.

  6. It wouldn’t change anything for me. As I said God could create whatever life wherever and whenever He chooses. It does not affect my relationship with Him. As far as my ‘relationship with the universe goes’, that’s unimportant.

    FWIW I suspect there is other life in the universe. Perhaps intelligent and perhaps much more intelligent than us. God created the universe in near infinite beauty and complexity. The Bible does not specify our existence is exclusive.

  7. The idea propagated today is when and how did life start. Most life forms are symbiotic and dependant upon other life. Plants could not grow without sunlight, water and air and all at the same time in a perfect formula. Animals could not appear without food could they? The creation account is not a scientific textbook, but it is very accurate and agrees with true science. Just take the time to read Genesis ch 1 and visualize the wisdom it took to make all things exactly at the right time so all life could live in harmony with no mistakes. Consider too, the time it was written by Moses, about 3,534 years ago. Then ask yourself, how could Moses have possibly have known such details with such accuracy? To this day, those details have never been disrupted.

    How long were those days? It could not have been 24 hours nor could it have been Billions of years. Human caretakers were needed, and his arrival was early. The amount of fossils indicate that some length of time was needed to prepare the earth. The earth could be a starting point but we are ready to expand are we?