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On Thursday, February 18th, many people gathered around their TVs to watch the Mars Perseverance rover land safely on Mars (or crash). Luckily, it did land, though there was a great risk that it wouldn’t. The Rover was made to search for signs of past life on Mars. It gained wide viewership as the first ever rover to ever have multiple videos of it landing. Perseverance already made history, and its perilous mission isn’t over yet. 

 NASA refers to a rover’s descent on to Mars as the “seven minutes of terror,” because so much can lead to disaster. Perseverance traveled to Mars quickly, going around 12,000 mph while entering the atmosphere, but had to slow down to two mph to touch down onto the surface safely. The rover slowed down as it approached Mars, and then deployed a 70 foot-wide parachute to slow it down more. Since air is thicker on Earth than it is on Mars, the parachute cannot slow it down enough, and the rover had to eventually release from the parachute and release a jetpack pushing it upward to slow the rover down enough to land. If any of this would have gone wrong, the 2.2 billion that already went into constructing Perseverance, and the almost seven month journey the rover took from Earth would have all been for nothing. 

While on Mars, Perseverance will collect rock and soil samples. In the future, another rover will pick up the rock samples Perseverance collected and bring them back to Earth. NASA’s scientists will search these samples for signs of past life, or past ability to support life. One area of interest is Jezero, a crater on Mars which is believed to once have held water. Perseverance also has a microphone, which will provide the first audio recordings of Mars. To potentially prepare for humans ever going to Mars, Perseverance will test oxygen levels in the atmosphere.

With things like Elon Musk, SpaceX, and events like this constantly being in the headlines, it feels like we are on the brink of a very exciting time in space exploration. It will be interesting to watch Perseverance in the months to come, as well as other upcoming NASA projects. 

Hi, I'm Liz Lagerback, a senior at Bucknell University who is loves to read and write! I'm majoring in Psychology and English, and am from Chanhassen, Minnesota.
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