Touchdown! Search for Extra Terrestrial Life on Mars Begins

NASA's Perseverance rover has successfully landed on Mars following a 239 million-mile journey.

The rover survived the 'seven minutes of terror' when it endured tumultuous conditions that battered the craft as it entered the Martian atmosphere and approached the surface.

'Touchdown confirmed! Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking signs of past life,' flight controller Swati Mohan announced to colleagues.

Perseverance shot like a speeding bullet through the atmosphere going 12,000mph and successfully deployed the sonic parachute which slowed it down to make a soft landing on the surface.

It descended down on the parachute, the backshell separated and the sky crane maneuver carried Perseverance to the ground attached to long Nylon cables.

Perseverance touched down at the base of an 820-foot-deep (250 meters) crater called Jezero, a former lake which was home to water 3.5 billion years ago.

The Martian surface is littered with craters but what makes Jezero Crater so special is that it an inflow and outflow channel, which suggests it was filled with water some 3.5 billion years ago.

Thomas Zurbuchen, of the NASA Science Mission directorate, said: 'It was an exciting day to think we're looking to bring samples of Mars back to Earth.'

'We're turning our rover into a robotic geologist and astrobiologist, collecting samples that we will be bringing back to Earth, that is what we're looking forward to.'

Moments after touchdown, Perseverance beamed back its first black-and-white images from the Martian surface.

Radio signals between Perseverance and NASA took 11 minutes to be sent due to the time it takes for the signals to travel all the way to Mars and back again.

As a result, Perseverance's on-board computers and 19 cameras were entirely responsible for the descent.

The spacecraft carrying the rover separated ten minutes before atmosphere entry and Perseverance will then enter Mars' atmosphere at around 12,000 miles per hour.

This rapid speed generated a huge amount of air resistance and friction which warmed Perseverance up to an enormous temperature in excess of 2,000°F.

The brunt of this thermal energy is absorbed by a heat shield, which sits between the rover itself and the outside.

A massive parachute deployed around four minutes intothe descent, when the rover is still seven miles from the surface. NASA saysthis is a critical step and involves the biggest parachute ever sent to anotherplanet.

Once the parachute deployed, the heat shield wasdiscarded as it is now surplus to requirements. This allowed the cameras of Perseverance to startstudying the terrain below and scour for a potential landing spot.

Around 90 seconds later, the backshell — the backhalf of the entry capsule that is fastened to the parachute — also jettisoned1.7miles above the Martian surface.

Prior to the landing, NASA officials did say 'it is not guaranteed that we will be successful.

To increase the chance of success, Perseverance was the first mission to be fitted with 'Terrain Relative Navigation' which will take images of the Martian surface during the descent. The information gathered from this will be used to inform the rover's decision as to where it will land.

It completed the final approach to the surface and slowed the craft down from 190 miles per hour to a mere 1.7 miles per hour while also steering the lander.

Source: Daily Mail

Meat Loaf dies aged 74: Singer passes away with his wife Deborah by his side