NASA’s Perseverance rover has successfully landed on the surface of Mars. It touched down at around 3:55PM ET, following a smooth descent to the surface. Perseverance's engineering cameras shared images from the landing site shortly after touchdown — NASA promised to share high-resolution photos later in the day.
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 18, 2021
NASA launched Perseverance at the end of last July from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its landing caps off a busy month of arrivals at the Red Planet. Over the span of two days last week, the United Arab Emirates and China successfully put their own respective spacecraft in orbit around Mars.
Now that it’s safely on the surface of the planet, Perseverance will explore the Jezero Crater, a dusty and hazardous 28-mile section of Mars that was once an ancient river lake. NASA’s hope is that the rover will find signs of ancient microbial life while there. It will use a selection of instruments, including traditional and ultraviolet cameras, to hone in on a promising site before deploying a drill to take core samples. In 2026, a subsequent mission will attempt to return the specimens back to Earth.