NASA’s Perseverance Rover lands on Mars | Sunday Observer

NASA’s Perseverance Rover lands on Mars

7 March, 2021
An artist’s illustration of Perseverance rover exploring inside 45km-wide Jezero Crater, Mars. Picture: AFP/NASA/JPL-Caltech
An artist’s illustration of Perseverance rover exploring inside 45km-wide Jezero Crater, Mars. Picture: AFP/NASA/JPL-Caltech

The rover streaked through the Martian atmosphere and this morning AEDT* touched down safely on the floor of a vast crater, its first stop on a search for traces of ancient microbial* life on the red planet.

Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Los Angeles in the US burst into applause and cheers as radio signals confirmed that the six-wheeled Rover had survived its dangerous descent and arrived within its target zone inside Jezero Crater.

The robotic vehicle sailed through space for almost seven months, covering 472 million kilometres before entering the Martian atmosphere at 19,000 km/h to begin its approach to touchdown on the planet’s surface.

Moments after touchdown, Perseverance beamed back its first black and white images from the Martian surface. Because it takes radio waves 11 minutes to travel from Mars to Earth, the Rover had already reached the Martian surface by the time its arrival was confirmed by the signals relayed to Earth from one of several satellites orbiting Mars.

It is the fifth time NASA has landed a Rover on Mars.

Scientists believe an ancient river once flowed into a lake at the Jezero Crater and deposited sediments*, hopefully preserving signs of any life present billions of years ago.

Only about half of previous Mars landing attempts have succeeded and this location is the most difficult.

The team guiding the rover used what was learnt during previous attempts, plus more advanced technology, including equipping the Rover to avoid hazards autonomously*.

Jennifer Trosper, Perseverance deputy project manager, with a full-scale model of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on February 16. Picture: AFP

The mission aims at for Perseverance to seal the samples it collects into small tubes and leave them on Mars’ surface until future missions are launched to return them to Earth for study. Each sample will weigh about 15g, a little under the weight of four teaspoons of sugar.

NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover will collect samples of Martian rock and dust for future return to Earth



Perseverance launched on an Atlas V-541 rocket from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, US, on July 20, 2020. The Atlas V is the same type of rocket that launched In Sight and Curiosity to Mars.

By February 14, Perseverance: had travelled more than 464 million kilometres of its 472-million-kilometre journey to Mars was about 200 million kilometres from Earth and about 827,000km from Mars.


Perseverance weighs 1025kg and is about the size of a car.

It looks like the Mars rover Curiosity, partly because Perseverance is made of about 90 per cent Curiosity spare parts.

A little helicopter called Ingenuity is attached to the underside of Perseverance. It is hoped Ingenuity can do some test flights to help engineers plan for future travel around Mars.

Perseverance is also carrying an instrument nicknamed MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) to make oxygen from the air. If this works, the idea could be used for future human settlements.


AEDT: Australia Eastern Daylight Savings Time

microbial: organisms that are so small they can only be seen with a microscope

sediments: small grains of sand or rock that are blown, washed or settle into place

autonomously: by itself, independently


Source NASA Courtesy: Kids News / Diana Coutts