Everything you need to know about NASA's Perseverance mission so far

Written on 03/01/2021
MARS


By Ciarán Mather

Following its successful landing on Mars earlier this month, it seems like all eyes are on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s latest rover, Perseverance.

Perseverance's main mission is to collect rocks for analysis back on Earth, as well as for any potential habitable conditions and micro-organisms that could prove that the Red Planet once hosted life of its own.

Since permanently moving to Earth's neighbour, NASA's Perseverance team has been hard at work on Mars… so much so that it can seem hard to keep track of it all.

It is for this reason that we at Newsday.ie have decided to compile the most recent breakthroughs of NASA's 'red' rover:

First pictures:

It seems that NASA's revolutionary Perseverance probe has a keen eye for photography, as it recently shared some photographs of the Martian terrain.



Martian music:

Making sure to keep eager online onlookers intrigued, NASA then released some of the first sounds that the rover picked up on the Red Planet:

 


Video killed the picture star:

Just a few days later, the rover released a goosebump-inducing video showing it touching down on Mars:

 

I spy with my little eye:

There's a reason the footage that's been live streamed back to Earth looks so good: Perseverance has hyperspectral cameras for eyes.

Known as Mastcam-Z, one recent article from WIRED explains:  'Close-up, Mastcam-Z can see details about 1 millimetre across; from 100 meters out, it’ll pick up a feature just 4 centimetres wide. That’s better than you and me.' 

'It also sees color better—or, rather, “multispectral,” capturing the broadband visible spectrum that human people are used to, but also about a dozen narrow-band not-quite-colours.'

'This one's for you, Mam and Dad':

In a heartwarming development, it was recently revealed that the rover was carrying a 'family portrait' of previous Martian rovers.



What's in a name:

Along with the adorable portrait, the Perseverance also contains three silicon chips containing over 11 million names. 

All the names were taken from the Send Your Name to Mars project.

What makes this more impressive is that each chip is smaller than a fingernail: talk about efficiency!

The inspiring story of its flight director:

Last but certainly not least, the story of Perseverance's flight director, Diana Trujillo, is just as fascinating.

According to a feature story by CBS, she was born in Colombia and since a young age, had dreams of exploring the stars.

She moved to the USA when she was 17 with just $300 on her person, and despite not initially knowing any English, she took on odd-jobs while studying at college before eventually landing her dream role in NASA in 2007.

Now, not only was she the flight director for the Perseverance mission, she is also part of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and worked on the team that created the robotic arm that will collect rock samples on Mars.

Perseverance was one of three separate space probes sent to Mars, which were controlled by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the USA and China respectively.

It is fitted with instruments known as SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals) and WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering.

The rover is equivalent in size to a small car and is estimated to have cost around $2.7 billion to build.