On Feb. 18, NASA successfully landed a new robotic rover to study life on Mars.

After a six month journey to Mars, Perseverance, NASA’s new robotic rover, landed on Mars on Feb. 18.  The objective of Perseverance’s mission is to search for signs of ancient or microbial life.  Perseverance will provide scientists at NASA with information regarding the geology of the planet, past climate and collect samples.

The new rover brings more hope in answering the question of whether or not Mars was once inhabitable.  The small-car-sized rover is equipped with incredibly complex scientific equipment that will help it to gather the most promising samples to bring back to Earth. 

Perseverance has a targeted landing system which uses terrain-relative navigation that is powered by artificial intelligence. This technology allowed the rover to touchdown in more difficult terrain than ever before.

On top of the rover were three cameras, two of which remained intact after the landing. The two functioning cameras were able to capture the rover’s parachute and descent. The rover entered Mars at about 100 miles per hour and involved a rocket powered jetpack that lowered Perseverance to the ground.  

“You can get a sense really of how violent that parachute deploy and inflation are,” said Allen Chen, the engineer in charge of the E.D.L. (entry, descent, landing) system.  

The cameras also showed that the landing gear helped to slow the rover down as it was speeding towards the ground at 1,000 miles per hour.  

Dozens of rovers have been sent to the Red Planet and many have been successful.  Previously, NASA uncovered evidence of water, organics, methane and more, which raised inquiries about there being ancient life on Mars.  

“On the surface of Mars, Perseverance’s science instruments will have an opportunity to scientifically shine,” said JPL Director Michael Watkins.  Watkins says that as the rover continues its success it is, “blazing its own path and daring new challenges in the surface mission.” 

He went on to suggest that NASA built Perseverance to not just land on the Red Planet, but to collect the best scientific samples for it’s return to Earth. 

The success of Perseverance is providing a lot of hope within the scientific community.  Scientists have already explained that they believed it was possible that there was once life on the Red Planet due to evidence provided by previous rovers.   

Since Perseverance landed on Mars, scientists are already describing that they can see rocks and other promising samples.  

“One of the possibilities of those holes is that they are called vesicles, which would be due to gas escape from volcanic rock,” said Kenneth Williford, the Duty Project scientist.  

WIlliford then explained that they are reluctant to call them vesicles because they want to be open to other possibilities and interpretations.

The Perseverance is paving  a way for the future of Space exploration. The hope is that the rover will finally answer many questions left unanswered by the previous exploration missions to Mars.