NASA's Perseverance rover on Friday made a successful landing on Mars, settling into a deep crater near the equator of the red planet, called Jezero and sending forth pictures of its first glimpse of the area.
"I’m safe on Mars. Perseverance will get you anywhere," tweeted the official handle of the NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover. In another tweet, it welcomed everyone to the crater, sharing photos from its "first look at my forever home". Incidentally, you can also take a better look at the landing site and any future photographs via the interactive map shared by NASA.
According to a press note released by NASA, the 45 kilometers wide Jezero Crater sits on the western edge of Isidis Planitia. Put more simply, it is a giant impact basin just north of the Martian equator. Scientists have determined that 3.5 billion years ago the crater had its own river delta and was filled with water.
The Perseverance rover's task is to investigate the rock and sediment of Jezero’s ancient lakebed and river delta and to look for any signs of ancient microbial life. About the size of a car, the robotic geologist and astrobiologist will undergo several weeks of testing before it begins its two-year science investigation.
With COVID-19 protocols in place, the celebration among engineers at NASA's mission control in California had to be somewhat sedate. But the joy was palpable, as people reportedly cheered and applauded their "picture perfect" landing. A photo shared by the Rover handle captures the team mid-cheer, perfectly encapsulating the mood.
The news has evoked a slew of congratulatory messages, with many including US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris tweeting out their support.
"Congratulations to NASA and everyone whose hard work made Perseverance’s historic landing possible. Today proved once again that with the power of science and American ingenuity, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility," Biden tweeted.
"Congrats to @NASA and all of their partners on their successful mission. Today's historic landing embodies our nation’s spirit of perseverance—building on past accomplishments and paving the way for future missions," added Harris.
Mixed in with the congratulatory messages was also a somewhat bizarre missive that we could not help but include here. Reacting to the news that the rover was now safe on Mars, the McDonald's Canada handle has promised that one day there would also be McDelivery in Mars.
And while we're not sure how healthy an idea this is, it would certainly make the red planet feel more Earth-like.