NASA rover Perseverance lands on Mars: How it went, and what’s next

Perseverance has mission like no other made possible by successful landing in ancient lakebed

Perseverance is searching for ancient life on Mars.

The NASA Perseverance rover made a successful landing on Mars on Thursday.

Perseverance, the biggest, most advanced rover ever sent by NASA, became the ninth spacecraft since the 1970s to successfully land on Mars, every one of them from the U.S. It landed in the Jezero Crater, which NASA scientists believe to be an ancient lake that is now dry.

However, they believe this is one of the best spots on Mars to search for signs of ancient life.

“There is an inlet channel, and an outlet channel, on this lake. Even better than that there is an amazing remanence of a delta, and we have never been near a river delta on another planet,” said Dr. Roger Wiens, the Perseverance Supercam lead scientist. “This is what got all of these scientists so excited about this landing site.”

We are now encountering a new era of exploration on Mars. Moreover, this was just the first leg of a roundtrip journey.

“Onboard Perseverance we have some pieces of technology that are specifically flying to mars to advance human exploration,” said Adam Steltzner, NASA Perseverance chief engineer.

There will be microphones recording what the surface of Mars sounds like.

“Did life also start on Mars when life started here on Earth. That’s one of the questions we’ll be trying to answer,” said Steltzner.

NASA's latest Mars rover has a special mission unlike any other.

The mission includes an experiment hoping to turn carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into breathable oxygen for astronauts, and liquid oxygen for rocket propellant for future missions.

The landing marks the third visit to Mars in just over a week. Two spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates and China swung into orbit around Mars on successive days last week. All three missions lifted off in July to take advantage of the close alignment of Earth and Mars, journeying some 300 million miles in nearly seven months.

Read more: NASA rover lands on Mars to look for signs of ancient life

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This photo made available by NASA shows the first image sent by the Perseverance rover showing the surface of Mars, just after landing in the Jezero crater, on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (NASA via AP)