Excitement and Suspense on Landing Day
Engineer Mallory Lefland experienced the tension and relief shared by the team on Mars 2020 Perseverance landing day, on Feb. 18, 2021. She watched the dramatic entry, descent, and landing from inside a mission support area at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. JPL built and manages operations of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover for NASA.
A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The Mars 2020 mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.