Physicists, engineers and astronauts alike continue to speculate on the existence of life on the planet Mars. The latest expression of that interest is the Mars Rover Perseverance, which is currently travelling across the surface of the planet, collecting data on its weather and environment.
Perseverance was launched on July 20, 2020 and was confirmed to have successfully landed on Mars seven months later, on February 18, 2021. Like its predecessor Curiosity, Perseverance has the goal of looking for ancient life and collecting samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for a possible return to Earth and further study.
Weighing in at 1,025Kg is the largest and heaviest Mars Rover ever sent to the planet, according to NASA. Unlike Curiosity which deployed its parachute after traveling 4450Km/h and was reliant on earth bound control, Perseverance has an algorithm that determines when to launch its parachute.
For the coming years Perseverance will search for signs of ancient microbial life. It will also aid in characterizing the planet’s geology and climate, and collecting samples for future return to Earth, opening up possibilities of human exploration of Mars.