NASA Shares Captivating Video Of Perseverance Mars Red Rover's Key Moments In 2021
The past year has been filled to the brim with new and exciting NASA missions. Just in the past few months the space agency has launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), seen the Parker Solar Probe become the first spacecraft to touch the Sun, launched the highly anticipated James Webb Space Telescope, and more. To say the teams at NASA and its international partners have been busy this past year is quite the understatement. However, it is a video NASA shared concerning the Mars Perseverance rover's first 10 months since landing that has center stage on this day.
Since its historic and harrowing February 18th landing on the surface of the red planet, Perseverance has been a busy little rover. It has driven 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers), set a record for the longest rover drive in a Martian day, collected six samples of Martian rock and atmosphere that hopefully will be returned to Earth for further study, and taken over 100,000 images. The rover has also been helping out the team for NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter, which tagged along for the ride to Mars attached to Perseverance, by capturing video and images of its space pal during its flights.
The video that NASA released on December 28th has Jessica Samuels, the Perseverance surface operations mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, sharing the rover's year in review. She explains that the next phase for Perseverance is to explore the delta that formed in Jezero Crater billions of years ago. The delta is thought to have been formed from sediment that an ancient river carried into the lake that once existed in the crater.
One of the main missions for Perseverance is to search for signs of ancient microbial life on the red planet. It is doing this in part by drilling into the surface of Mars and collecting core samples of Martian rock and soil. It then seals those samples in tubes for a planned future mission that will attempt to return them back to Earth for a more detailed analysis.
While the rover is exploring the past habitability of Mars, it is also testing technologies to help make future human exploration of the planet possible. A few of the ways Perseverance is aiding in future human expeditions is by testing a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, identifying other resources, characterizing weather, dust and other potential environmental conditions, and improving landing techniques.
As NASA and all of us look back on the year Perseverance has had, there are many reasons to be excited for the future. As humankind looks toward space as a potential for future inhabitation, the research that is being done now from the surface of the red planet will make future human missions to the red planet possible.