Curiosity and perseverance always took humanity to exciting destinations. Not so long ago we “conquered” the Moon, and now we’re getting pretty close to walk on Mars.
The latest step was made on Thursday, by NASA’s Perseverance rover, which arrived on the Red Planet after a long, six months, journey, and a dramatic landing. Friday, one day after the successful touchdown, NASA announced, in a press conference, that Perseverance is “healthy” and already sending amazing images from the surface of Mars.
“Touchdown confirmed!” announced, on Thursday evening, Swati Mohan, the flight controller. The whole mission control erupted frantically after the intense landing, described by engineers as “seven minutes of terror”.
Perseverance recorded its landing, but these images were in black and white. NASA revealed now the first color images received directly from the rover’s high-resolution cameras.
Why is this landing such a big deal, some might ask? Well, it’s important because Perseverance will closely search on Mars for evidence of ancient signs of life. The most sophisticated robotic geologist ever created will stay on Mars for around two years, gathering all sorts of data. This includes collecting soil samples, which will arrive on Earth with another mission.
Perseverance is a six-wheeled, car-sized rover weighing over a tone. Thousands of people from around the world worked on this “epic” project, for eight years.
The 2,7 billion $ rover has the most cameras (20MP resolution) ever sent to Mars. Also, for the first time, we will be able to hear the sounds of the Red Planet, because Perseverance is fitted with two microphones.
Attached to its belly, the rover even has a small helicopter called Ingenuity. The 1,8 kg helicopter resembles a drone and can be used as a “pathfinder” for inaccessible areas.
Perseverance follows the footsteps of Curiosity and Opportunity Mars missions, which suggested the planet might have supported life, billions of years ago. Scientists hope the Perseverance mission will find evidence to confirm this theory.