Perseverance and Ingenuity Touchdown on Mars

Space Coast, FL – Perseverance lifted off on July 30, 2020 on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Might Atlas V. Also along for the ride, an experimental helicopter, Ingenuity. The near 7 month space ride ended yesterday as Perseverance touched down successfully at Jezero Crater on Mars.

Perseverance and Ingenuity on the Atlas V 541 Mars 2020 launch
Perseverance and Ingenuity launch on July 30, 2020 for Mars 2020 mission | Photo: Jon Van Horne

Perseverance Landing On Mars

The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover will search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance NASA’s quest to explore the past habitability of Mars. The rover has a drill to collect core samples of Martian rock and soil. They will then be stored in sealed tubes for pickup by a future mission. That mission will ferry them back to Earth for detailed analysis. Perseverance will also test technologies to help pave the way for future human exploration of Mars.

Annotation of the instruments on Perseverance | Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Ingenuity, Mars Helicopter

Strapped to the rover’s belly for the journey to Mars is a technology demonstration — the Mars Helicopter. Ingenuity, may achieve a “Wright Brothers moment “ by testing the first powered flight on the Red Planet. The Mars Helicopter is a technology demonstration to test powered flight on another world for the first time.

Ingenuity, Mars Helicopter Illustration
Illustration of Ingenuity on Mars’ surface | Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A series of flight tests will be performed over a 30-Martian-day experimental window that will begin sometime in the spring of 2021. For the very first flight, it will take off a few feet from the ground, hover in the air for about 20 to 30 seconds, and land. That will be a major milestone: the very first powered flight in the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars! After, the team will attempt additional experimental flights of incrementally farther distance and greater altitude. After the helicopter completes its technology demonstration, Perseverance will continue its scientific mission.

Celebration at NASA JPL at moment of touchdown confirmation
Celebration at NASA JPL at moment of touchdown confirmation | Photo: NASA JPL/R. Lannom

Celebration Time

The confirmation of the Mars rover touching down happened at 1555 EST (2055 UTC). However, there is an eleven minute delay in signal transfer from Earth to Mars and back. So, in real time, the Mars rover actually landed on the surface of Mars at 1544 EST (2044 UTC). The first image from the rover’s Front Hazcam followed soon after.

First image taken by Perseverance on Mars
First image taken by Perseverance on Mars | Photo: Perseverance – NASA/JPL-Caltech

Then only moments later NASA JPL got it’s second image.

Second image taken by Perseverance on Mars | Photo: Perseverance - NASA/JPL-Caltech
Second image taken by Perseverance on Mars | Photo: Perseverance – NASA/JPL-Caltech

There will be much more to come over the next few years and we’ll be following closely with all the science news and info. Congratulations to ULA and NASA JPL teams for all their hard work and in making Mars just a little closer to all of us.

Want more info? Check out our Mars 2020 mission page!

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