NASA’s Perseverance rover has officially spent one entire year on Mars. It’s done a lot of great things in 365 days. The rover, which cost $2.2 billion, officially landed on the Red Planet on February 18, 2021. Since then, the rover has kept busy.
Mainly, the six-wheeled rover has collected rock samples, served as a helicopter base, and conducted experiments. Many of the highlights of the Perseverance rover’s career have been beamed back to Earth. Scientists and space enthusiasts alike have marveled over what the rover has seen and done.
NASA’s Perseverance rover was made to search for signs of life on Mars. It might not have discovered anything yet, but there’s still plenty for it to do.
Historical Accomplishments for NASA’s Perseverance Rover
The rover is collecting samples from the Jezero Crater. NASA thinks that it’s likely the crater used to be a lake. There could be evidence of life somewhere inside the crater.
Some of the rover’s accomplishments include driving the most miles on Mars and conducting 19 successful flights. Oh, did we mention that the rover has a helicopter counterpart, for the first time ever? The rover’s flying companion is called Ingenuity. It was only supposed to be able to fly five times and has already done more than triple that.
The rover has collected six samples of rocks, taken more than 100,000 images, and sent tons of data back to Earth.
NASA’s Perseverance rover has had its fair share of challenges, too. For one, the rover is literally millions of miles away. It’s hard to troubleshoot issues from so far away. Weather has been an issue for the mission in the past. On top of that, the rover had trouble collecting one sample and even got pebbles stuck in it once. Overall, it’s been an “emotional rollercoaster” for scientists.
The Future of This Mars Mission Is Unclear
NASA has estimated that the rover’s mission will last for a little under two years. During this time, they hope that the rover will be able to collect at least 20 samples from the surface of Mars.
The ultimate goal is to get those samples back to Earth, but scientists aren’t sure how they’re going to do that yet. According to NASA, they’re still working on a plan to get the samples back from the Red Planet, with the help of the European Space Agency. According to Fox Weather, it’ll likely cost billions to get the samples back to Earth. It won’t be a fast process, either.
The plan is for the samples to be loaded onto a rocket and sent back to us. It’s estimated that the rocket would get to Mars by 2028, and return by 2031. If that happens, history will be made again: the rocket would be the first-ever to launch from another planet and return to Earth.