The Path to Landing a Rover on Mars
By: Monica Ahuja
On July 30, 2020 the rover Perseverance was sent into space with the intention of landing on the planet Mars. On February 18, 2021, the rover Perseverance landed on Mars near the Jezero Crater.
According to NASA, using Perseverance, the agency intends to find signs of microbiological life, the terrain of Mars, collect samples, and utilize new technology developed.
The name of the rover was determined by a middle school student from Virginia, Alexander Mather. The winner was chosen through a writing contest in which children and teens have the opportunity to name the rover. The tradition of naming rover has persisted since 1997.
Perseverance is also carrying a small helicopter named Ingenuity. This name was also submitted in the writing contest for the naming of the rover. It was submitted by Vaneeza Rupani.
“Perseverance” and “Ingenuity” are fitting names for the rover and its companion considering that NASA has been working to explore the planet of Mars since the 1960s. NASA has also come a long way technologically and as an agency since its founding in 1958.
The Mars 2020 mission, the mission under which the rover was launched is expected to cost between $2.7 billion and $2.8 billion. The rover itself, including design, cost about $2.2 billion to build.
The most exciting aspects of the landing for many are the images that the rover will be sending back to Earth. Perseverance has taken images of a quality that have never been taken before.
The rover has also sent back the first audio recordings from the planet, or any planet for that matter. NASA has released these images and recordings for the public to admire and continues to do so.
The “Red Giant,” 192 million miles from the Sun, while Earth, a mere 93 million miles from the Sun, is of interest to both government and private space exploration agencies. Most notably SpaceX has sought to go to Mars to determine if humans can “live among the stars.”
This is something that NASA is currently exploring with “Perseverance.” The rover will be measuring oxygen in the planet’s atmosphere, exploring the possibility of humans inhabiting the planet.
The landing of Perseverance brought tears to the eyes of many and was a cause of celebration. It was demonstrative of how far we have come.
As the world remains still in the midst of a pandemic, the images and recordings of the rover landing serves as a wonderful reminder of what we can do collectively.
The landing of the rover is indicative of a future technology and human “perseverance.” This incredible feat has been achieved because of the combined works of people all through human history.
How far have we come? How much farther can we go? What does this mean? These are the questions being contemplated by many in the present.
Lastly, although we cannot all be together as we once were before, we are connected by our desire to work together, improve the world, and celebrate our achievements.
While we remain isolated, we should safely celebrate our achievements (even the little ones) and ask ourselves “what can I do to better myself and the world? And how can I persevere?”