By Josie Barton
The 2020 Mars rover launched on July 30th, 2020, and landed Thursday, February 18th, 2021. The rover traveled about 300 million miles through space for 7 months. NASA scientists’ goal for the rover is to expand knowledge of Mars and possible fossils.
The rover, named “Perseverance,” weighs over a metric ton and landed on the Jezero Crater on the Martian surface. NASA engineers plan for the rover to seek evidence of ancient life and fossilized microbial life on Mars while capturing pictures and videos of the surface.
If landing the first acting rover on the surface of Mars was not enough, complications with the pandemic created even more stress for the team. Scientists, engineers, and technicians that were not working on vital mission activities moved their work home.
Thomas Zurbechen, the Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA said, “Perseverance is not just the name of the rover, it’s what describes this team.”
Leading engineer, Allen Chen, was the Entry, Descent, and Landing Lead. Chen was responsible for working on the 2012 Mars ‘Curiosity’ landing and made final landing calls for the 2020 Mars rover. Guidance, Navigation, and Controls Operations Lead, Swati Mohan, brought the rover to the ground.
The rover holds 23 cameras for a full and accurate view of the Martian surface. Videos and pictures show the rover’s parachute inflation 7 miles above the surface of the planet. After traveling through the Martian atmosphere, the rover landed on Mars’ surface.
During Perseverance’s journey, NASA’s team experienced “7 minutes of terror” when the rover traveled through the Martian atmosphere and landed on the surface. The rover was independent from connections with NASA through technological delaying issues. Luckily, NASA gained access to information on the rover after it landed.
“We believe Mars was habitable about 4 million years ago,” Chen added. Scientists plan to discover fossils and remains of past microbial life with the Perseverance. The rover captured the first audio recording of Mars and scientists hope to provide more historical scientific discoveries to the 21st century.