NASA’s latest mission to Mars has been exploring the red planet since it landed February 18, 2021. But the United States is not the only country that sent missions to Mars recently. China’s Tianwen-1 mission, which landed on Mars in May, and the United Arab Emirates’ Hope Orbiter all arrived successfully in 2021. Perseverance is the fifth NASA rover to land on Mars.
Perseverance watched its ride crash
The Skycrane which brought the rover to the Martian surface was supposed to complete its job and then fly a safe distance away to crash, which it did. The rover dangled below its Skycrane on cables, which were severed as soon as safe landing was detected. The Skycrane then departed to conduct an uncontrolled landing. Perseverance filmed the impact.
There is a helicopter on Mars
Ingenuity is a rotary-wing aircraft which has flown over 30 minutes of missions on Mars and is the first aircraft to operate from the surface of another planet. Solar-powered and weighing in at about four pounds, you can watch it fly around on NASA’s website.
Listen to the wind
For the audiophiles among us, you can even listen to the wind on Mars, as recorded by Perseverance. The Perseverance rover has two microphones, letting us hear sound from another planet for the first time in history. Sounds to absorb include the sound of the first Martian helicopter flying around, as well as laser shots impacting rock.
Perseverance will return soil and rock samples to Earth for study. For the first time ever, scientists will be able to study samples from our neighboring planet. Bringing the samples back for analysis will enable use of technologies too complex or just too large to include on the Perseverance rover. A rocket will launch the samples into Mars orbit, where a waiting spacecraft will intercept them and return them to Earth.
Who Remembers Organic Chem Class?
The building blocks of life have been found. Organic compounds have been identified by the rover in the rock and dust of the Martian surface. While not an indicator of life, the discovery of these compounds excites scientists. If these compounds have been preserved, other biosignatures could be preserved as well.