Florida, February 19: Cheers erupted in NASA's control room, as kicking off the new era of Red Planet exploration Nasa's most ambitious Perseverance Rover was made historic touched down to the red planet on 19 February.
Soon after touch-down, the spacecraft relayed back its first image captured using the "hazard camera" on-board, which is used mainly to get the rover safely around Mars.
It was a historic touchdown as the terrain
where the rover settle was the most challenging place to the land of any martian sites previously targeted because of the presence of cliffs, dunes, and boulder fields. With that touchdown, it has become, the fifth Nasa rover ever to touch down on Mars after Sojourner twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity and Curiosity.
Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said, “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."
He added, “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.”
About the Mission
The Perseverance Rover was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on July 30, 2020. The rover will include a five-jointed robotic arm measuring 2.1 m (6 ft 11 in) long. The arm will be used in combination with a turret to analyze geologic samples from the Martian surface The rover has a touchdown after completing a 203-day journey and traversing 293 million miles (472 million kilometers).
Perseverance is the most advanced, most expensive, and most sophisticated mobile laboratory sent to Mars. The rover was designed with help from Curiosity's engineering team, as both are quite similar. The rover is equipped with record 25 cameras and two microphones, which will help the orgnisation of their expedition.
According to NASA, Perseverance will spend the coming year years scouring for a sign of ancient microbial life in a historic mission that will bring back a sample from Mars to earth. The goal is to get them back to Earth as early as 2031. Perseverance is also designed to help pave the way for the human exploration of Mars.
Perseverance will also conduct an experiment in which it will convert small amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into oxygen, a process that could be a boon to future astronauts by providing breathable air and an ingredient for rocket fuel.
Taking Flight on Another World
While Perseverance is focused on digging in the dirt, a helicopter called Ingenuity has its mission. The helicopter is solar-powered and can recharge on its own. It is equipped with two cameras, one in color and one in black and white. The robotic helicopter will test the technology to scout interesting targets for study on Mars, and help plan the best driving route for Perseverance. The aircraft will be deployed from the rover's deck and is expected to fly up to five times during its 30-day test campaign early in the mission. As per the information given by NASA, each flight will take no more than three minutes, at altitudes ranging from 3 to 10 meters (10 to 33 ft) of the ground, but it could potentially cover a maximum distance of about 600 m (2,000 ft) per flight.
Last week UAE's hope and China's rover also entered the orbit around Mars. All three missions lifted off in July to take advantage of the close alignment of Earth and Mars, traveling some 300 million miles in nearly seven months.