SEE IT: First Photos Of Mars From NASA’s Perseverance Rover
A full scale model of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is displayed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on February 16, 2021 in Pasadena, California. - The Mars exploration rover will search for signs of ancient microbial life and collect rock samples for future return to Earth to study the red planet's geology and climate, paving the way for human exploration. Perseverance also carries the experimental Ingenuity Mars Helicopter - which will attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

As part of NASA’s search for signs of life on Marks — and their most ambitious attempt since the Viking missions in the 1970s — the Perseverance rover landed safely on Mars at 15:55 Eastern Time. After traveling for almost seven months since leaving Earth, the rover transmitted its first photo of the planet’s surface.

On its Twitter account, “NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover” tweeted “Hello world. My first look at my forever home.”

The rover, which is equipped with instruments designed to allow NASA to identify evidence of fossilized life, landed in the 28 mile-wide Jezero Crater near the planet’s equator.

According to the BBC, “Billions of years ago, when Mars was wetter, Jezero held a lake that could have supported primitive microbial organisms.”

Soon after its first post, the NASA Perseverance Mars Rover account tweeted its second photograph, saying “And another look behind me. Welcome to Jezero Crater.”

NASA’s Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk congratulated the NASA Perseverance team on its successful touchdown, saying: “What an amazing team to work through all the adversity and challenges that go with landing a rover on Mars, plus the challenges of COVID.”

The last time NASA landed a rover on Mars was in 2012, with Curiosity.

The progress of NASA’s Perseverance was described by the rover’s account on Twitter, including: “This is it. I’m entering the top of the Mars atmosphere. No looking back. Seven minutes to touchdown,” and: “Here goes! Lighting the engines on my ‘jetpack’ for final descent. Wheels down in less than a minute.”

Then, after safely landing, NASA’s Perseverance announced its arrival on Mars, saying: “I’m safe on Mars. Perseverance will get you anywhere.”

Because of a one-way time delay of 11 minutes, the Perseverance rover was required to effectively land itself without help from NASA, during what they refer to as the “seven minutes of terror.” After the ground teams instruct the craft to begin its entry, descent and landing sequence (EDL), mission control is left with nothing to do but wait.

According to CNN, “The spacecraft hits the top of the Martian atmosphere moving at 12,000 miles per hour and has to slow down to zero miles per hour seven minutes later when the rover softly lands on the surface.”

Cheers and applause broke out in the relieved NASA control room in Pasadena, California, when the rover finally touched down on Mars’ surface.

Alongside the Ingenuity helicopter drone, the Perseverance rover is part of Mars 2020, the latest Mars rover mission by NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The mission was announced on December 4, 2012, at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, and launched on July 30, 2020.

During the July 2020 Mars launch window, two additional missions were sent toward Mars before Mars 2020, launched by the national space agencies of the United Arab Emirates (Hope orbiter) and China (Tianwen-1).

NASA is estimated to have spent nearly $2.2 billion on the Perseverance rover alone, having planned to invest approximately $2.8 billion in the Mars 2020 mission over 10 years.

This article has been expanded after publication to include additional information.

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