NASA’s £2bn Perseverance rover lands safely on Mars after ‘7 minutes of terror’

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Mankind is on track to hear the sounds of the Red Planet for the first time after NASA's Perseverance Rover touched down safely in Mars' Jezero Crater.

And now, the £2billion exploration vehicle is set to start scanning the surface of the planet for signs of ancient life and collect a number of rock and soil samples for analysis back on Earth.

Perseverance launched on July 30 last year and has travelled more than 129million miles since then as it blasted towards its destination.

The Jezero Crater is 45km across and is just north of Mars' equator. It was chosen as the landing site as it is believed to have once been home to a river – around 3billion years ago.

This makes it more likely there are traces of biological life in the ancient sediment that river left behind.

And late on Thursday, UK time, the craft began its descent to the surface of our solar neighbour in its quest to find evidence of alien life.

In what had been described as "seven minutes of terror" by NASA boffins before today, Mission Control could do nothing but sit and wait, hoping that the automated processes built into the craft would operate as expected.

And, fortunately for the blood pressures of pretty much everyone at NASA, they did.

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There were cheers at Mission Control as it was confirmed first of all that the Perseverance's parachute had deployed as expected, and then even louder ones when touchdown was confirmed.

Speaking in the hours before the landing, NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) landing lead Al Chen put Thursday's landing in simple terms.

He said: "We're trying to land the biggest, heaviest, and most complex rover we've ever built at the most dangerous landing site we've ever attempted."

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Jim Bell, who is in charge of NASA's team operating Perseverance's MastCam, spoke at a pre-landing press conference on Tuesday about the historic nature of the mission.

Speaking over video chat from Arizona State University, he revealed just how much technology is onboard the rover, and how it will be used to fully examine the alien surroundings.

"This rover is loaded with engineering and science cameras galore – and microphones," he said.

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"This rover and this mission is going to be a feast for the eyes and ears. It’s really going to be spectacular.

"There are 23 cameras on the rover and its descent stage plus two more on the helicopter – that’s 25 cameras in total.

"It’s the most camera-heavy mission of deep space exploration ever sent out there, so it is very, very exciting."

Last month, it was revealed that the mission would let humanity hear the sounds of the red planet for the first time.

  • Nasa
  • Mars
  • Space

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