NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance is one step ahead of Elon Musk when it comes to getting to the red planet, which it called it’s ‘forever home.’
Perseverance, the most advanced astrobiology laboratory ever sent to another world, streaked through the Martian atmosphere on Thursday and landed safely on the floor of a vast crater, its first stop on a search for traces of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet.
Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Los Angeles burst into applause, cheers and fist-bumps as radio beacons signaled that the six-wheeled rover had survived its perilous descent and arrived within its target zone inside Jezero Crater, site of a long-vanished Martian lake bed.
“Touchdown confirmed,” Swati Mohan, the lead guidance and operations specialist announced from the control room. “Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars.”
The robotic vehicle sailed through space for nearly seven months, covering 293 million miles (472 million km) before piercing the Martian atmosphere at 12,000 miles per hour (19,000 km per hour) to begin its descent to the planet’s surface.
Moments after touchdown, Perseverance beamed back its first black-and-white images from the Martian surface, one of them showing the rover’s shadow cast on the desolate, rocky landing site.