NASA's rover named Perseverance — or "Percy" for short — successfully landed Thursday on Mars, after a journey of more than six months traveling at 12,000 mph through space for 293 million miles.
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Perseverance is on a mission to take photographs and collect samples of martian soil and rock for analysis as a $2.4 billion "robot geologist," according to CBS News.
The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, erupted in cheers and applause after the safe landing, with guidance and control operations lead Swati Mohan declaring, "Touchdown confirmed! Perseverance is safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the signs of past life."
NASA releases first images taken by Mars Perseverance rover after historic landing | ABC7 www.youtube.com
Following the landing, the rover's Twitter account shared a photo taken from the red planet with the caption, "Hello, world. My first look at my forever home."
Hello, world. My first look at my forever home. #CountdownToMars https://t.co/dkM9jE9I6X— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover)1613682061.0
CNN noted that "Perseverance is NASA's ninth landing on Mars and the agency's fifth rover." It's also the heaviest, weighing more than a metric ton.
The outlet reported:
Perseverance also carries instruments that could help further exploration on Mars in the future, like MOXIE, the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment. This experiment, about the size of a car battery, will attempt to convert Martian carbon dioxide into oxygen.
Not only could this help NASA scientists learn how to produce rocket fuel on Mars, but also oxygen that could be used during future human exploration of the red planet.
Ken Farley, project scientist for Mars 2020 said in a statement, "Perseverance's sophisticated science instruments will not only help in the hunt for fossilized microbial life, but also expand our knowledge of Martian geology and its past, present, and future."
After Perseverance landed around 4 p.m. EST, the name "Matt Damon" began trending on Twitter, as social media users joked that the rover might stumble across the actor who starred in the 2015 hit film, "The Martian," based on the book by Andy Weir.