Mars Exploration Exciting But Terrifying

NASA’s newest voyage of discovery isn’t. A rover that launched last July 30th was scheduled to arrive on Mars in February, and scientists were hoping that the Perseverance Mission would help them figure out if life were ever-present on the red planet. The mission’s cost is $2.7 billion. It was scheduled to last two years. If all goes as planned during that time, the Perseverance Rover is set to travel 15 miles studying Mars` climate and geology and collecting samples of Martian soil that could one day be brought back to Earth.

But, the mission has been met with a few bumps in the road. The rover first had to undergo an extensive check-out period, booting up on Mars. It had to unfold and download software. It has to deploy a $23 million drone helicopter whose purpose is to find out if powered chopper flight is possible on Mars. And before any of that can happen, Perseverance had to make a safe landing on the red planet.

The transmission of the landing was tenuous. NASA described it as “seven minutes of terror.” The U.S. space agency’s Perseverance mission plunged into the Martian atmosphere at over 19,000 kilometers an hour. It breaks with tremendous force lurching downwards as it endures temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Celsius. Then it deploys a parachute, and at just the right moment, it releases a rover retro rocketing towards a treacherous terrain. It all must happen in about seven minutes, and it all has to happen autonomously.

If the daring landing succeeds, NASA’s Perseverance rover will touch down at Jezero Crater. The sight of a Martian lake more than 3.5 billion years ago. There Perseverance will help prepare for human life and search for ancient life from the past. It will also collect rock samples that will hopefully return to Earth for the very first time. The two-year mission is unlike any other made possible by discoveries from NASA’s four other rovers on Mars.