(WEST LAFAYETTE) — Purdue University provided photographs and soundbites from Thursday’s (Feb. 18) celebration of the Mars Rover Perseverance landing.
Briony Horgan, a member of the Mars Perseverance Rover mission team, watched intently as the rover landed around 3:55 p.m. ET Thursday on the surface of the red planet without a hitch.
Horgan led mineralogy research for the mission, and her team’s important finding on Jezero Crater led NASA to select it as the rover landing site. Horgan also was part of a team that designed some of the scientific instruments for the rover, including the stereo Mastcam-Z camera, which is powerful enough that it could be used to view a housefly at the far end of a soccer field.
After completing a 292.5 million-mile journey and nail-biting seven-minute final descent through the Martian atmosphere before touching down just north of the planet’s equator. Now, the real work begins, as the plucky rover – nicknamed Percy by NASA scientists – sets out on a mission to detect signs of ancient life.
“Did life also start on Mars when life started here on Earth? That’s one of the questions we’ll be trying to answer,” said Adam Steltzner, NASA Perseverance chief engineer.
The mission includes an experiment hoping to turn carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into breathable oxygen for astronauts, and liquid oxygen for rocket propellants for future missions.
Here are some of the first images from Mars.