Perseverance Mars rover marks a year on red planet

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Friday marks the first anniversary of NASA’s Perseverance rover’s Mars landing. 

The rover first touched down in the planet’s Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

NASA’S PERSEVERANCE ROVER LANDS ON MARS

The Mars 2020 mission launched July 30, 2020, from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Since then, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) noted in a statement, it has racked up a series of accomplishments, including new distance records. 

The 2,263-pound robotic geologist collected the first rock core samples from another planet, tested the first prototype oxygen generator on Mars and deployed Ingenuity, the first robotic helicopter to take off on another planet.

Perseverance looks back with one of its navigation cameras toward its tracks on July 1, 2021 (the 130th sol, or Martian day, of its mission), after driving autonomously 358 feet (109 meters) – its longest autonomous drive to date. The image has been processed to enhance the contrast.

Perseverance looks back with one of its navigation cameras toward its tracks on July 1, 2021 (the 130th sol, or Martian day, of its mission), after driving autonomously 358 feet (109 meters) – its longest autonomous drive to date. The image has been processed to enhance the contrast.
(NASA/JPL-Caltech)

According to the agency, “Percy” also recently broke a record for the most distance driven by a Mars rover in a single day, traveling almost 1,050 feet using its AutoNav software on Feb. 14. 

Perseverance – which carried the most cameras ever sent to Mars – has nearly wrapped up its first science campaign in the crater, which contained a lake billions of years ago.

NASA INGENUITY MARS HELICOPTER MAKES HISTORY WITH FIRST POWERED, CONTROLLED FLIGHT ON ANOTHER PLANET

It is currently gathering rock cores from the crater floor – the first step in the Mars Sample Return campaign.

Two more samples will be collected in the coming weeks that scientists believe could provide an age range for Jezero’s formation and lake.

“The samples Perseverance has been collecting will provide a key chronology for the formation of Jezero Crater,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement. “Each one is carefully considered for its scientific value.”

Perseverance’s journey has run into a couple of snags thus far.

Its first attempt at drilling a rock core was unsuccessful and some pebbles hindered progress last month.

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In subsequent missions in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), NASA would send spacecraft to Mars to collect the sealed samples and return them to Earth.

A key objective for the Perseverance mission is astrobiology and the hunt for signs of ancient microbial life.

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