Just in: Perseverance Rover has landed – This is its first photo of Mars

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Perseverance on 18 February 2021 successfully landed on Mars at 22:55 South African Standard Time (SAST). NASA will release high-res photos in due course, however, here is the first snapshot.

Mars 2020: Here’s what you need to know

The photo was shared on social media, along with the caption:

“Hello, world. My first look at my forever home”.

A second photo shows the view behind Perseverance, and the caption reads: “And another look behind me. Welcome to Jezero Crater”.

Operations lead Swati Mohan announced at 15:55 Eastern Time (22:55 SAST), that touchdown was confirmed as the mission control room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory headquarters erupted in cheers.

Watch: Perseverance landing confirmed

The Mars 2020 mission

It’s the fifth rover – all American robotics – to land on the surface of the red planet, since Mars Pathfinder paved the way in 1997. The Perseverance rovers is equipped with a two-metre-long robotic arm, 19 cameras and two microphones.

NASA’s biggest, meanest rover to date will collect rock and soil samples and look for ancient signs of life at the Jezero Crater. The samples will be returned to Earth in the 2030s for lab analysis.

NASA geologist Katie Stack Morgan says the question of whether there’s life beyond Earth “is one of the most fundamental and essential questions we can ask”, and adds:

“Our ability to ask this question and develop the scientific investigations and technology to answer it is one of the things that make us as a species so unique.”

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