The largest, most advanced rover NASA has sent to another world touched down on Mars. The American space agency has successfully landed its Perseverance rover in a deep crater near the planet's equator called Jezero.
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System, being larger than only Mercury. In English, Mars carries the name of the Roman god of war and is often referred to as the "Red Planet".
Jezero is thought to have held giant lake billions of years ago. And where there's been water, there's the possibility there might also have been life. The space agency also provided the scene from inside Mission Control — in an immersive 360 degrees. You can look around to watch people as they go about their work, but there are also big virtual screens displaying multiple other views, including NASA’s other live stream. It might be the best way to experience the landing because you’ll get it all simultaneously.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission embodies our nation’s spirit of persevering even in the most challenging of situations, inspiring, and advancing science and exploration. The mission itself personifies the human ideal of persevering toward the future and will help us prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet in the 2030s.
Steve Jurczyk, the acting administrator at Nasa, saluted the achievement: "What a credit to the team. Just what an amazing team to work through all the adversity and all the challenges that go with landing a rover on Mars, plus the challenges of Covid. Just an amazing accomplishment."
"What an amazing team to work through all the adversity and challenges that go with landing a rover on Mars, plus the challenges of COVID."— NASA (@NASA) February 18, 2021
Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk congratulates the @NASAPersevere team on a successful #CountdownToMars: pic.twitter.com/cV1rsTJlsv
However, the United Arab Emirates became the fifth to successfully undertake a mission to Mars, having inserted an orbiter into the Martian atmosphere on 9 February 2021.
There are investigations assessing the past habitability of Mars, as well as the possibility of extant life. Astrobiology missions are planned, including the Perseverance and Rosalind Franklin rovers. Liquid water on the surface of Mars cannot exist due to low atmospheric pressure, which is less than 1% of the atmospheric pressure on Earth, except at the lowest elevations for short periods. The two polar ice caps appear to be made largely of water. The volume of water ice in the south polar ice cap, if melted, would be sufficient to cover the planetary surface to a depth of 11 meters (36 ft). In November 2016, NASA reported finding a large amount of underground ice in the Utopia Planitia region. The volume of water detected has been estimated to be equivalent to the volume of water in Lake Superior.
Mars can easily be seen from Earth with the naked eye, as can its reddish coloring. Its apparent magnitude reaches −2.94, which is surpassed only by Venus, the Moon, and the Sun. Optical ground-based telescopes are typically limited to resolving features about 300 kilometers (190 mi) across when Earth and Mars are closest because of Earth's atmosphere.