We Have Touchdown


“Mars” by Kevin M. Gill is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Wyatt Fulton

   After a 9-year hiatus from a Mars landing, the United States is back on Mars. The Perseverance Rover landed Feb. 18, 2021, after taking off from Port Canaveral on July 30, 2020, and flying over 300 million miles.  The previous rover, Curiosity landed on Mars in August of 2012 and is still currently active. The Curiosity rover is said to last 14 years to the year 2026 with the same mission as the Perseverance Rover. The mission to discover if Mars was suitable for human life. 

   Although both rovers were sent with the same task, with a 9-year gap in between landings, the Perseverance Rover has a few upgrades. These include a more precise landing, a heavier chassis, a redesigned wheel, and more advanced equipment for collecting samples of Mars. 

   The Perseverance Rover will take a cylinder sample out of the ground and drop it in its tracks. The tubes containing the samples will then be picked up in a future mission where the rover will land, gather the tubes from Perseverance and return home. The Perseverance Rover has over 40 tubes capable of collecting samples of the ground and 5 tubes for collecting gas particles to study the air surrounding Mars.  

   With the samples, scientists will hopefully be able to discover if Mars is inhabitable or if it is a desolate wasteland not capable of sustaining human life. However, the first samples most likely won’t return until 2030. 

   In the meantime, scientists will analyze photos taken from the rover and listen to recordings from the rover itself. The photos and audio recordings may allow scientists to obtain a better understanding of the planet before the samples arrive in 2030.      

   Until then, all we can do is sit back, relax, and explore this fascinating planet through pictures, audio recordings, and GPS tracking.