THE MARS Rover has successfully landed on the Red Planet after a long, seven-month journey from Earth.
The robot, aptly named Perseverance, touched down on Mars just before 9pm Irish time last night, or 1pm local time, where scenes of joy erupted at the NASA control room in California.
Scientists faced a painstaking 11-minute wait to confirm the robot had landed on the planet, due to agonisingly slow radio signals transmitting 33.9 million miles, and scientists at the control room leaped from their seats to cheer and roar with joy as they heard the magic words:
"Touchdown confirmed. Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars."
— NASA (@NASA) February 18, 2021
Perseverance will now begin its search for evidence of ancient life on Mars, by taking photographs and analysing samples of rocks.
According to Sky News, Perseverance landed in an ancient, dried-up river known as the Jezero Crater, where it will drill deep down into the sediment where water once flowed.
Perseverance safely landing no Mars is only half the battle however; the planet, and the Jezero Crater in particular, is peppered with boulders, cliffs and sand dunes, which could break the robot and end the mission if the utmost care is not taken.
For now however, the mood in NASA is of joy and hope, as Perseverance's launch on 30 July 2020 finally led to a safe landing seven months later.
The robot has its own Twitter account-- which you can find here-- where it has already been updating followers with images of the Red Planet.
Safe on Mars. https://t.co/heoYjkwfty
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 18, 2021