In an incredible interplanetary feat, NASA’s Perseverance rover has successfully landed on Mars on Thursday. The touchdown, which took place on the red planet’s Jezero crater, marks the beginning of the agency’s most ambitious effort to directly investigate whether there was once life on our neighboring planet.
The robotic rover is the largest and most technologically sophisticated NASA has ever sent to another world, and it carries the necessary scientific tools to enable the search of life beyond Earth.
About the size of a car, the rover is equipped with advanced cameras as well as state-of-the-art laser and radar technologies that will aid its mission to search for signs of ancient microbial life in the Jezero area, a 30-mile-wide crater that was once a lake.
“It‘s an enormous undertaking that’s in front of us, and it has the enormous scientific potential to really be transformative,” said Kenneth Williford, a deputy project scientist on the mission. “The question is, ‘Was Mars ever a living planet?’”
The rover’s ultimate aim is to collect Martian rock samples that will later be collected and brought back to Earth as part of a follow-up mission. Once they will have reached Earth, which is expected to happen over the next decade, scientists will have even more capabilities to find something signaling that our planet is not the only place where life has ever been found.
Image source: NASA