ROVER LANDING: NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover safely landed on Mars on Thursday after a 203 day journey of traveling 293 million miles through space. Perseverance is the largest, most advanced rover NASA has ever sent to another planet. Confirmation of the successful land was announced at 3:55 p.m. E.S.T. in mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

The rover was launched on July 30 in an effort to collect samples from Mars and return them to Earth.

Perseverance is 2,263 pounds and about the size of a car. This “robotic geologist and astrobiologist” will initially undergo several weeks of testing before it starts it’s mission of investigating the rock and sediment of Jezero’s lakebed and river delta to characterize the region’s geology and past climate as well as search for signs of ancient microbial life.

Scientists will then be able to study samples collected by the rover to search for definitive signs of past life.

The impressive rover is equipped with seven primary science instruments, including the RIMFAX subsurface radar, Mastcam-Z zoomable panoramic cameras, SuperCam laser micro-imager, MEDA weather station, SHERLOC ultraviolet spectrometer, PIXL x-ray spectrometer and MOXIE, which produces oxygen from martian CO2.

This will allow Perseverance to scour the Jezero region of Mars for fossilized remains of ancient microscopic Martian life, all the while collecting samples.

“This landing is one of those pivotal moments for NASA, the United States, and space exploration globally – when we know we are on the cusp of discovery and sharpening our pencils, so to speak, to rewrite the textbooks,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission embodies our nation’s spirit of persevering even in the most challenging of situations, inspiring, and advancing science and exploration. The mission itself personifies the human ideal of persevering toward the future and will help us prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet in the 2030s.”

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

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