On Thursday, NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars. Built in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, the rover was sent to Mars to collect rock and sediment samples, search for signs of microbial life, analyze the Red Planet’s geology and climate, all with the intention of, one day, having humans explore Mars. Perseverance has the latest tools to help analyze the chemical composition of rocks and sediment as well as identify traces of organic matter and minerals (to prove that water, at one point, existed on Mars). The rover is also equipped with radar to scan the geology of Mars under the surface.
Perseverance touched down in a river delta; the team behind the rover think this could be the place to find evidence of microbial life and preserved organic matter. How will the rover retrieve samples? A fine drill is installed on the rover that is able to able to drill into small rocks and carefully extract core samples and save them until a future joint NASA-European Space Agency lander program visits Mars. The rover has one last neat trick it’ll attempt while on Mars: a tool to produce oxygen from the carbon dioxide in Mars’ atmosphere.
Visit Perseverance at NASA for updated RAW images from the rover.