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Nasa's Perseverance rover ready to search for life on #Mars

───   12:08 Fri, 19 Feb 2021

Nasa's Perseverance rover ready to search for life on #Mars | News Article
PHOTO: NASA/AFP/Bill INGALLS

After seven months in space, Nasa's Perseverance rover overcame a tense landing phase with a series of perfectly executed manoeuvres to gently float down to the Martian soil Thursday and embark on its mission to search for signs of past life.

"Touchdown confirmed," said operations lead Swati Mohan at 3:55 pm Eastern Time (2055 GMT), as mission control at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena erupted in cheers.

The autonomously guided procedure was in fact completed more than 11 minutes earlier, the length of time it took for radio signals to return to Earth.

Shortly after landing, the rover sent back its first black-and-white images, revealing a rocky field at the landing site in the Jezero Crater, just north of the Red Planet's equator.

More images, video of the descent and perhaps the first sounds of Mars ever recorded by microphones are expected in the coming hours as the rover relays data to overhead satellites.

US President Joe Biden hailed the "historic" event. "Today proved once again that with the power of science and American ingenuity, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility," he tweeted.

During a press call, Nasa Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen theatrically tore up the landing phase's contingency plan, to emphasise how well things had gone, and admitted he violated Covid protocol by hugging people because of the emotions of the moment.

Over the coming years, Perseverance will attempt to collect 30 rock and soil samples in sealed tubes, to be eventually sent back to Earth sometime in the 2030s for lab analysis.


eNCA/NASA/AFP Handout





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