What has NASA’s Perseverance rover accomplished since landing on the surface of Mars in February 2021? Surface Operations Mission Manager Jessica Samuels reflects on a year filled with groundbreaking discoveries at Jezero Crater and counts up the rover’s achievements:
- More than 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers) driven
- A new record for the longest drive in a Martian day
- Six samples and counting of Martian rock and atmosphere that could eventually be brought to Earth for further study
- More than 50 gigabytes of science data
- 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
Samuels also explains the next phase of Perseverance’s mission: to explore the delta that formed in Jezero Crater billions of years ago from sediment that an ancient river carried into the lake that once existed in the crater.
A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover is characterizing the planet’s geology and past climate and paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. Perseverance is the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).