Mars 2020: Perseverance Lands

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A picture of Perseverance (Photo courtesy of NASA).

On February 18th, 2021, the Mars Rover, Perseverance, landed on Mars. As a part of the Mars 2020 missions, the rover launched in July of 2020 with the intent of discovering signs of ancient life as well as collecting samples to bring back to Earth. 

NASA has launched four other rovers before Perseverance, including Spirit, Opportunity, and Sojourner, all of which have lost contact. The only active rovers as of now are Curiosity and the newly landed Perseverance

After making the 292.5 million mile trip to Mars, it was revealed that Perseverance landed perfectly. The first part of the operation was a success. Now, the rover will have to begin its real task: collecting samples for research and future exploration.

Given that NASA spent over $2.4 billion to build and launch the rover, Perseverance is an upgrade from its predecessor, Curiosity. It was built with different wheels made of thicker material that is better suited for the planet’s rough surface. In addition, the rover was also equipped with a new Sampling and Cache system that Curiosity did not possess. Perseverance will also be updated throughout the mission, and each sample it collects will be set aside in a designated area on Mars while the new software is added. 

Another difference that sets Perseverance apart is that the rover will collect rock cores for future sampling and observation rather than studying samples immediately after collection. While the new rover’s main structure was based on Curiosity, new advancements and technology were added to make Perseverance more adaptable and efficient. 

Even throughout a pandemic, technology has not faltered, and exploration continues. The landing of Perseverance is one of many steps towards discovery.