Perseverance’s Historic Landing

Timothy Toepel, Reporter

       On February 18, 2021, the “Perseverance” rover landed on Mars to begin its long mission in answering a key question in space exploration: the potential for life to exist on the red Martian surface. The rover was launched on July 30, 2020 when Earth’s orbit was closest to Mars in order to cut costs on fuel and landed seven months later. Preceding the Perseverance rover was the “Curiosity” rover, which launched on November 26, 2011 and landed on August 6, 2012. This rover was similar to Perseverance in the way that it landed, utilizing a parachute method to slow the rover’s descent and then rocket thrusters to guide the rover to the Martian surface. The Curiosity rover had a similar mission as Perseverance and was also equipped with very complex and different instruments to help it complete its mission. Curiosity’s primary mission was to research the Martian environment to determine if it has the right conditions to support microbial life. The Curiosity rover cost NASA 2.5 billion and the Perseverance rover will cost 2.7 billion after the expedition. Some say that this is a reasonable price to pay in mankind’s search for more knowledge of the worlds around us.

The high cost for the Perseverance rover allows it to contain all of the technology necessary to fulfill its mission. Once you send something to space you can’t get it back to fix, so it needs to be tested thoroughly and be able to not only survive any challenges that the Martian surface will throw its way, but also to conduct valuable research. Perseverance will have an onboard laboratory to study rock samples. It will even be sporting a larger turret or “hand” to collect rock samples and hold a camera to take pictures. To ensure that Perseverance is healthy, it can take selfies of itself using that hand and send daily or weekly checkups.