An interplanetary journey of 472 million kilometers (293 million miles) over 203 days, NASA’s Mars Mission – Perseverance, has finally landed successfully on the Mars surface. The American space agency announced the touchdown on the Red Planet on Thursday at 3:55 pm ET.
The US President Joe Biden also congratulated the space agency on the successful touchdown.
“Congratulations to NASA and everyone whose hard work made Perseverance’s historic landing possible. Today proved once again that with the power of science and American ingenuity, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility,” he tweeted.
Perseverance, also nicknamed “Percy”, has captured its first images of the landing site quickly after the touchdown and sent them back to Earth. Posting a photo that shows the rover’s shadow on the surface of Jezero Crater, Percy tweeted, “Hello, world. My first look at my forever home.”
It is the third occasion this February that a probe has reached the Red Planet, however, it is the first mission to have landed on the Martian surface. Earlier this month, on Feb. 9, UAE’s Mars orbiter – Hope, entered into the orbit of Mars which was followed by China’s Tianwen-1 just a day after the UAE’s successful orbital insertion. China’s Tianwen-1 will attempt to land on the Mars surface in May or July.
As of now, Perseverance is the latest and also the fifth rover to land successfully on the Martian surface. So far all the rovers that have landed on Mars were sent by NASA.
Steve Jurczyk, the acting NASA Administrator, described the landing as “one of those pivotal moments for NASA, the United States and space exploration globally”.
“The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission embodies our nation’s spirit of persevering even in the most challenging of situations, inspiring, and advancing science and exploration. The mission itself personifies the human ideal of persevering toward the future and will help us prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet,” Jurczyk said.
NASA’s Mars Mission – Perseverance set off on July 30, 2020, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The mission aims to collect Mars samples and look for ancient alien fossils. The rover will help to study the geology and climate of the planet. Furthermore, it will also attempt to fly a helicopter for the first time on the Red Planet.