BREAKING: NASA Sticks The Landing - Perseverance Successfully Lands On Mars

Perseverance, NASA’s latest rover to head to Mars, landed successfully on the Red Planet about 3:55 Eastern on Thursday, ushering in a new era of Mars exploration for the space agency.  Perseverance, which launched in July 2020, carries a lot more scientific equipment and instruments than its sibling Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012.  Included in that equipment is a way of collecting samples to be sent back to Earth, as well as a Mars first: A helicopter!

The aerial acrobatics performed by the rover during landing included a super-sonic dive through the atmosphere, the deployment of the largest supersonic parachute to ever be deployed on another planet, the use of radar to determine an appropriate landing spot, a rocket-powered-descent to just over the surface (after disconnecting from the parachute), and a perilous sky crane final twenty-meter drop from the rocket platform to the surface of the planet.  After Percy (a nickname given the rover) touches down, the rocket-powered sky crane will fly away to crash somewhere else on the planet’s surface.

The NASA-JPL control room supervising the descent and landing watched the tense final moments of Percy’s arrival on Mars, burst into cheers upon the announcement of the touchdown.  I was lucky enough to be at JPL the night of the Curiosity landing and I can tell you, it is one of the most exciting scenes I have ever been able to witness.

Here is an animation of the final descent of Perseverance:

Percy also sent back some pictures on Mars:

Here’s the moment from inside the control room on touchdown:

Understandably, a lot of Twitter users were excited about the landing, offering their congratulations to the team at NASA:

 

Congrats to NASA and the entire Perseverance Team!  Job well done!   Now the real science begins!