The first images from NASA’s latest Mars rover have been sent back after it successfully landed on the planet’s surface on Thursday.
Perseverance, the newest robotic explorer on the fourth planet from the sun, sent back a pair of high-resolution images of its landing site on Friday.
The full-colour photos show a dusty, rocky plateau that scientists believe was once a river delta. The rover will be taking samples from the area as it searches for signs of former or even current microbial life.
The engineering and scientific team behind Perseverance was jubilant yesterday as the rover touched down, completing a voyage of over 200 million kilometres that has been seven years in the planning.
“This landing is one of those pivotal moments for NASA, the United States, and space exploration globally – when we know we are on the cusp of discovery and sharpening our pencils, so to speak, to rewrite the textbooks,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk.
“The mission itself personifies the human ideal of persevering toward the future and will help us prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.”
NASA also posted a photo from the craft’s final descent towards the surface, showing Perseverance suspended from its chute some distance above the ground.
The samples collected by the rover will be transferred back to Earth by a future mission, in cooperation with the European Space Agency.