The American space agency has successfully landed its Perseverance rover in a deep crater near the equator of the planet called Jezero

“The good news is, I think the starship is in great shape,” said Matt Wallace, the mission’s assistant project manager

The engineers at Nasas Mission Control in California were overjoyed when confirmation of landing came in

The six-wheeled vehicle will now spend at least the next two years digging into the local rocks looking for evidence of past life

Jezero is said to have held a huge lake billions of years ago. And where there was water, there was the possibility that there could have been life too

The signal informing the controllers that the stamina is down and safe arrived at 8:55 PM GMT in the past they may have hugged and been haughty, but strict coronavirus protocols meant they all got through Plexiglass screens were separated A respectful punch was almost all they could manage

Even so, the excitement was evident and the applause continued as the first two pictures came in. They were captured by low resolution tech cameras The translucent lens covers still attached were covered in dust but it was possible to have a flat surface both in front and behind to see the rover

Post-landing analysis indicated that the vehicle had shut down approximately 2 km southeast of the Jezero delta feature that Perseverance is investigating

“We are in a nice flat place. The vehicle is only approx 1 incline2 degrees, “said Allen Chen, who led the landing team,” So we successfully found this parking lot and a safe rover on the ground and I couldn’t be more proud of my team if I did that “

Congratulations to NASA and everyone whose hard work made the historic landing of Perseverance possible. Today has again proven that with the power of science and American ingenuity, nothing is outside the realm of possibility ImageTwittercom / NzSxW6nw4k

Steve Jurczyk, Acting Administrator of NASA, also welcomed the achievement: “What a merit to the team What a great team to tackle all the adversities and challenges that come with landing a rover on Mars are, as well as the challenges of Covid, simply an amazing achievement “

And Mike Watkins, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, home of the agency’s Mars missions, added, “The first few days (of the mission) are special because we have just landed a representative from planet Earth in a place on Mars where no one has been “

Landing on Mars is never easy, and although NASA has become an expert on it, all members of the Perseverance team had spoken with great caution by Thursday

The first, Curiosity, landed in a different crater in 2012. Innovative descent technologies were tested, including a rocket-propelled cradle that Perseverance has now also successfully deployed

“The first few days are special because we have just landed a representative of planet earth on a place on Mars that no one has been to” – Mike Watkins, Director of @NASAJPL, via @ NASAPerseveres View of the Jezero- Craters after landing by #CountdownToMars BildTwittercom / NzUGJp7wAc

The controllers will commission the new rover in the coming days and check whether any of its systems have been damaged during a rough ride to the ground

The mast of persistence with its main camera system must be raised. The software that brought the vehicle to the surface of Mars must now be replaced with a software system that allows the robot to drive over this surface

Above all, expect Perseverance to take lots of pictures over the next week as engineers and scientists try to assess the nature of the nearby site

A short term goal will be to conduct a helicopter experiment. Perseverance brought with it a mini-chopper that will attempt to make the first powered flight in another world – what could be called the “Wright Brothers Moment” for Mars / p>

Only after that will the robot get on with the serious business of its mission. It will go to that huge delta feature that is being recognized by satellites

Deltas are built by rivers when they enter wider bodies of water and dispose of their sediment. Scientists hope that the tell-tale signatures of past biology have been incorporated into the material that built the Jezeros Delta

Through perseverance, the base of the delta is scanned and then moved to the rim of the crater. At the rim, satellites have discovered carbonate rocks that are particularly good at capturing biological activity on Earth

Perseverance has a number of instruments with which all these formations can be examined in detail down to the microscopic level

45 km wide Jezero features several types of rock, including clays and carbonates, which have the potential to preserve the kind of organic molecules that would indicate the past existence of life

Particularly tempting is the “bathtub ring” made of sediments deposited on the coast of the old lake. Persistence could find what on earth are called stromatolites

here

“In some lakes, microbial mats and carbonates can interact to form these large structures, these large layer mounds,” explained Dr Briony Horgan, a member of the science team at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana

“If we see something like this in Jezero, we will prepare for it right away because it could be the holy grail of Mars astrobiology,” she told BBC News

The most interesting rock finds from Perseverance are packed in small tubes that remain on the surface

Nasa and the European Space Agency (ESA) have come up with a billion dollar plan to pick up these cylinders towards the end of the decade

It will be a complex endeavor with a second rover, a Martian rocket and a giant satellite sending the Jezero materials home

Even if persistence discovers what looks like a bio-signature, the evidence is almost certain to be challenged – as claims about traces of ancient life here on earth usually are

Bringing back stones for further, more nuanced analysis is therefore probably the only way to clarify arguments about past biology on the Red Planet

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Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-56119931