Piece of Kitchener technology lands on Mars on Perseverance rover

Piece of Kitchener technology lands on Mars on Perseverance rover”

Perseverance landed in an area of Mars called Jezero Crater, just north of the planet's equator.

There's a spacecraft and a rover about 200 million kilometres (124m/miles) away from Earth that needs all the help it can get at that time. China hopes to become the second nation in late spring with its own life-seeking rover; its vessel entered orbit around Mars last week along with a United Arab Emirates spacecraft.

Scientists hope to find biosignatures embedded in samples of ancient sediments that Perseverance is created to extract from Martian rock for future analysis back on Earth - the first such specimens ever collected by humankind from another planet.

Cheering but, in accordance with COVID-19 precautions not (as they normally would) hugging each other, the team celebrated the landing and soon were treated to the first images sent back from the rover.

Two subsequent Mars missions are planned to retrieve the samples and return them to NASA in the next decade.

And the rover will use an onboard instrument suite to synthesize oxygen using the carbon dioxide in the thin Martian atmosphere.

NASA's most sophisticated rover to date has a packed agenda for the next few years. It's the first chopper attempting to fly on another planet.

The planet has always been a death trap for incoming spacecraft, and it took a nail-biting 11 and a half minutes for a signal confirming the successful landing in the Jezero Crater to reach Earth.

NASA is bracing itself for "seven minutes of terror" Thursday afternoon.

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This illustration depicts NASA's Perseverance rover operating on the surface of Mars.

The $2.7 billion mission, known as Mars 2020, launched July 30 of a year ago on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5. The almost seven-month journey the spacecraft took to reach Mars was a gentle coast compared to the final, frenzied seven minutes of atmospheric entry and descent it had to execute in order to stick its landing.

It took a nail-biting delay of 11½ minutes for a signal that confirmed its success to reach Earth. Jezero Crater is a 28 mile-wide impact crater that used to be a lake; scientists believe it's an ideal place to look for evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars.

The landing sequence for Perseverance is essentially the same high-wire act that a previous rover, Curiosity, used to land in 2012.

"That's pretty exciting because for once, we actually get to answer the question, were we ever alone in the universe?" he said. "There's no go-backs. There's no retries", deputy project manager Matt Wallace said Wednesday. "We start by sending, you know, our eyes and arms there in the form of a robot". The Mars landing engines, which include eight retrorockets, fired to slow the descent to 1.7 miles per hour - or the average walking speed of a human.

Like its predecessor Curiosity, which is still operational and making great science, Perseverance is a semi-autonomous mobile science platform, aka a rover.

Retuning samples is the logical - and necessary - next step in Mars exploration.

The helicopter team will make sure Ingenuity is safe, healthy and ready to fly, "a true extraterrestrial Wright Brothers moment", according to Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

That a safe landing would happen today was never guaranteed, with NASA saying it would be the most challenging yet.

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