In July of 2020, the NASA Jet Propulsion team launched a rover called “Perseverance” in hopes of proving whether or not life once existed on Mars.
“Perseverance” landed in the Jezero crater on Mars six months after launch. Its mission is to find solid evidence of water on the planet. The presence of water is a necessary condition for life. The rover collects soil and rock samples that NASA hopes to retrieve and then study.
The rover’s other tasks are to explore Mars and its surroundings and send back photographic images. It will also send other important data back to scientists on Earth.
After its launch in 2020, Perseverance traveled for over six months. In February of 2021, it landed safely on the red planet. The SUV-sized rover carried a small helicopter named “Ingenuity.” The small helicopter was placed inside the rover and flew along to Mars.
Perseverance is not the only rover to visit and explore Mars. Scientists and engineers have launched other rovers such as “Spirit” and “Opportunity.” They are among the reasons we now know about signs of ancient water on Mars. The rovers provide information we otherwise couldn’t get because humans can’t walk on Mars.
Mars is one of the only planets in our Solar System that could have sustained life in the past. Exploration of the planet by space rovers could lead to important discoveries in the future.
[Sources: Planetary.org; NASA]