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NASA's New Robotic Rover 'Perseverance' Lands on Mars


February 18, 2021

Today at 12:55 PM PST, NASA’s new robotic rover Perseverance touched down on Mars within the Jezero Crater.  Manufactured by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and considered an upgrade to past Mars rovers, Perseverance is the ninth U.S. spacecraft to successfully land on the Martian surface.  It was launched last July 30, 2020 from Cape Canaveral by an Atlas V rocket before it took a 293 million mile journey.

The spacecraft entered the thin 95% carbon dioxide atmosphere at about 12,00 mph, slowing until it deployed a 70-foot parachute, jettisoned its heat shield, descending further with help of eight reverse thrusters, and then released by a "sky crane" from a 21-foot cable.  It endured a temperature close to 3,800 degrees F when traveling through the Mars atmosphere.  A sky crane was also used to land a previous NASA rover Curiosity into the Gale Crater on August 2012.



NASA Rover Perseverance Safely Brought Down to the Mars Surface by a "Sky Crane" {NASA - Associated Press}

Perseverance features a 7-foot arm to drill down and collect rock samples vying for some “bygone” microscopic life. These samples will be sealed in tubes and set aside to await yet another rover – from another spaceship – which will bring them back to Earth supposedly by 2031. Evidence of past life on Mars will help answer questions central to the inquiry of extraterrestrial life in the universe.

The rover itself spans about ten feet in size and weighs 2,260 lbs (on Earth). It will still maintain the same mass on the red planet, however, at 1025 kg but weigh under 900 pounds. It has 25 cameras and two microphones, and equipment to convert Co2 to Oxygen. It also features a small “model-sized” helicopter that will fly through the Martian atmosphere equipped with only a video camera.

Perseverance was named by a seventh-grader from Virginia as part of a nationwide “name the rover” contest.