Here Are the First Images of Mars Taken by NASA’s Perseverance Rover

Here Are the First Images of Mars Taken by NASA’s Perseverance Rover

NASA's Perseverance rover has successfully landed on Mars after a seven-month journey spanning almost half a billion kilometres. That launch was carefully timed to get the rover to the planet at its closest to Earth.

The box-shaped tool, the first built to extract a natural resource of direct use to humans from an extraterrestrial environment, could prove invaluable for future human life support on Mars and for producing rocket propellant to fly astronauts home.

Perseverance will now collect geological samples that will be brought back to Earth in about a decade to be analysed for signs of ancient microscopic life. Soon after, a camera returned the first image, showing dust, rocks, and the shadow of the rover looming over the black-and-white martian surface.

At 7:55 a.m. AEDT today, NASA's Perseverance rover landed in Jezero crater, the site of a former lake and river delta.

Mars landings are among the toughest challenges in space exploration, and Perseverance's arrival in Jezero Crater was the trickiest NASA has ever attempted. The one-ton rover, about the size of a compact vehicle and protected by a heat shield, slammed into Mars's atmosphere at a speed of 19,500 kph (12,100 mph).

For a full breakdown of Perseverance's bells and whistles visit the rover's official page on NASA's website. It's the first chopper attempting to fly on another planet.

NASA is bracing itself for "seven minutes of terror" Thursday afternoon.

Perseverance, which launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on July 30, 2020, differs from its predecessor Martian rovers in a few key ways.

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It took a nail-biting delay of 11½ minutes for a signal that confirmed its success to reach Earth.

This illustration shows Jezero Crater - the landing site of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover - as it may have looked billions of years go on Mars, when it was a lake.

The landing represented the riskiest part of two-year, $2.7 billion endeavour whose primary aim is to search for possible fossilized signs of microbes that may have flourished on Mars some 3 billion years ago, when the fourth planet from the sun was warmer, wetter and potentially hospitable to life. Mission controllers expect to receive confirmation on February 18 that it has hit the top of the Martian atmosphere at around 3:48 p.m. EST (12:48 p.m. PST) and touched down gently on the surface at around 3:55 p.m. EST (12:55 p.m. PST).

This is the second one-tonne rover put on Mars by the United States space agency. The Curiosity rover arrived in mid-2012, and the stationary InSight lander began exploring the planet's geology in November 2018.

The red planet contains 12 kilometers of liquid water below its surface, Bridenstine explained, "and we know that the methane cycles of Mars match the seasons of Mars". All that resistance, however, acted as a powerful brake, and three minutes after peak heating, the speed of the ship was reduced to 1,609 kph, slow enough for the heat shield to be jettisoned and a parachute to deploy.

NASA says a successful flight could pave the way for accessing new viewpoints, future recon missions, and even carrying necessary payloads from one location to another. The circle represents where the Perseverance rover is expected to land.

While the mission to return samples from Mars has yet to be fully planned, NASA scientists say that if all goes to plan we could have samples from Mars back on Earth by 2031.

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