With missions from three nations expected to reach the Red Planet this month, 2021 might be the most illuminating year in the history of Mars research. Earthlings have been sending probes and robots to and near Mars since the 1960s, and dozens have successfully captured images and data about the planet, gradually revealing its desert mysteries. We've learned a bit about its geology and atmosphere, found ice, and uncovered compelling evidence that Mars was once home to blue oceans. The looming missions will search for evidence of past life on Mars, gather a complete picture of the planet's weather systems, prepare soil samples to be picked up by a future mission, and even attempt the first flight on Mars (via a small helicopter). From the United States comes Perseverance, NASA's fifth Mars rover.
NASA's Perseverance rover is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral at 7:50 a.m. The mission is the nation's first that is dedicated to astrobiology, or the search for evidence of ancient life on another planet. If bad weather or technical issues interfere with takeoff, NASA has about a three week window -- July 30 through August 15, with varying launch times each day -- to try again. If the mission fails completely within that time frame, the team would have to wait until 2022. That's because Earth and Mars only align in a position that's conducive to launches every 26 months.
NASA's Perseverance rover has spent the last week on the surface of Mars and in that short time has already sent back thousands of photos - including a cheeky selfie. The latest rover from the US space agency landed on the Red Planet just before 21:00 GMT on Thursday, February 18 after a hair raising '7-minutes of terror'. The $2.2 billion vehicle is equipped with 23 cameras including nine for engineering work, seven for science and seven to help it land on the Martian surface. The first image sent back from Mars was a grainy, dust covered black and white picture taken by one of the Navigation Cameras and shows rocks of various sizes littering the Jezero crater. Among the most iconic images sent back was the rover dangling over the Martian surface, attached to the sky crane that helped it safely land on the Red Planet. Other images returned include a sensational high resolution 360-degree panorama of the Martian landscape and a video of Perseverance's nail biting landing.
NASA says its Perseverance rover is in'great shape' after successfully landing on the surface of Mars last night after a 239 million-mile journey. The landmark landing shortly before 4pm ET (9pm GMT) was watched live by millions as NASA live streamed the process to millions of eager viewers. The $2.2billion car-sized rover guided itself to a patch of smooth terrain in Jezero, a 28-mile wide and 820ft-deep crater which was home to a Martian lake 3.5 billion years ago. Perseverance, nicknamed Percy, survived the dreaded'seven minutes of terror' which saw it endure temperatures in excess of 2,000 F as it entered the Martian atmosphere at more than 12,000mph. Perseverance beamed back its first image of the crater moments after NASA established radio contact with the rover, leading to raucous applause and joyous scenes at NASA's Californian mission control. Flight controller Swati Mohan announced to relieved colleagues: 'Touchdown confirmed! Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking signs of past life.' 'The good news is the spacecraft, I think, is in great shape,' said Matt Wallace, Deputy Project Manager of Mars 2020. Perseverance will spend the next two Earth years scouring for signs of life in the crater and will perform a host of experiments.
Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. NASA's Mars rover Perseverance will make its descent onto the red planet on Thursday, but there are a few hurdles to cross before it can land. The 2,260-pound rover -- partly named in recognition of health care heroes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic -- launched late last summer from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and has since traveled 293 million miles to reach its destination. Its target is Jezero Crater, a carefully-selected location for Perseverance's mission in astrobiology.