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19th Feb 2021

WATCH: The moment NASA Mars Rover Perseverance touches down


Joyous scenes in the NASA control room

History was made on Thursday as NASA Mars Rover Perseverance successfully landed on the red planet.

The space agency landed the robot close to Mars’ equator inside a deep crater known as Jezero at 20:55 GMT. Early indications claimed the spacecraft was functioning well after its arrival, sparking celebration amongst NASA staff.

The tense final seconds of Perseverance’s approach to Mars’ surface – and the joyous scenes after its successful touch down were confirmed – were captured live from Nasa’s mission control centre in California in the video below.

The six-wheeled vehicle will now begin two years of drilling into the area’s rocks, looking for evidence of past Martian life. Jezero is believed to have been home to a giant lake over billions of years ago, with scientists theorising that the presence of water increases the likelihood that life once thrived there.

Perseverance plans to investigate a large delta feature within Jezero. The craft’s signal indicates it landed around 2km to the south east of it.

“We are in a nice flat spot. The vehicle is only tilted by about 1.2 degrees,” said Allen Chen, who oversaw the Perseverance landing team. “So we did successfully find that parking lot and have a safe rover on the ground. And I couldn’t be more proud of my team for doing that.”

“The good news is the spacecraft, I think, is in great shape,” added Matt Wallace, the mission’s deputy project manager.