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.