After a week of difficulties and challenges, Houstonians and the Johnson Space Center have something great to celebrate. Controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed that NASA’s Perseverance Rover, with the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter attached to its belly, has touched down safely on Mars.
According to NASA “Many engineers refer to the time it takes to land on Mars as the seven minutes of terror. Not only is the choreography of Entry, Descent and Landing complex, but the time delay involved in communicating with Earth means that the spacecraft has to accomplish this choreography all by itself.”
The Rover that is fondly called “Percy” has been on approximately 300 million-mile journey since leaving our planet over 6 months back. The rover will explore Jezero Crater which is the site of a 3.9 billion year old lake on Mars. Rover will search for microfossils in the rocks and soil of the Jezero Crater. These will be returned to the earth by the 2030s and analyzed for signs of ancient life on Mars. Along with collecting soil samples, Percy will (in a historic first) also record sounds from Mars.
There is also a helicopter appropriately named Ingenuity that has accompanied Percy and will fly on Mars. The helicopter weighs just 4 pounds and will make short 30 second trips around the surface of Mars. It will be powered using solar panels.