NASA’s Perseverance rover has been incredibly busy exploring the surface of Mars since its arrival in February.
A newly released video from the space agency highlights key moments from its mission so far, from its spectacular landing (shown in breathtaking footage) and collection of rock samples to the capture of sublime imagery and a few clever selfies.
And we mustn’t forget the Ingenuity helicopter, either, which traveled to Mars with Perseverance and in April became the first aircraft to perform powered, controlled flight on another planet.
According to NASA, Perseverance’s main achievements to date include:
- More than 1.8 miles (2.9 km) driven
- A new record for the longest drive in a Martian day (548 feet/167 meters)
- Six samples and counting of Martian rock and atmosphere that could eventually be brought to Earth for further study
- More than 50GB of science data gathered
- More than 100,000 images returned, including two selfies
- 18 flights by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter, which hitched a ride and coordinates flights with the Perseverance rover
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, however, with the team having to face a series of challenges that included issues with Perseverance’s sample collection process, and problems during several of Ingenuity’s flights. But even from so far away, the crack team at NASA managed to overcome these hurdles and keep both Perseverance and Ingenuity fully operational.
The mission has many goals, including to confirm whether microbial life ever existed on the planet. Learning more about Mars’ atmosphere and structure could also help to pave the way for the first crewed missions to the distant location.
“What motivates us as engineers and scientists exploring another planet is the opportunity to continuously learn more,” surface operations mission manager Jessica Samuels says in the video.
Looking ahead to next year, Samuels added: “Now that we’ve toured the floor of Jezero Crater, we look forward to investigating the delta, a part of the crater where a river fed into a lake in the distant past. It’s almost as if we’re starting a new mission because we’ll start to cover new ground and make new scientific discoveries.”
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