Excitement Builds Over US Mars Mission

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The American space agency is expected to release new photos from its Perseverance rover shortly.

There was huge excitement at Nasa when its one-tonne robot touched down in Mars’ Jezero Crater on Thursday.

Satellites have since been flying over the ($2.7bn/£1.9bn) vehicle to pull off data to relay back to Earth.

Among all this information should be further views from the rover – of its surroundings, and some pictures it took during the descent to the surface.

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Perseverance is sitting almost bang in the middle of its targeted landing zone, about 2km to the southeast of what remains of an ancient river delta that formed at the edge of a lake.

Engineers were delighted to see that hazard-avoidance systems had steered the rover away from tricky terrain in the last moments before wheels down.

The coming days will be consumed by getting Perseverance properly commissioned. Nasa will want to check over the hardware to be sure nothing was damaged during what would have been a rough ride to the ground.

Perseverance’s mast, with its main camera system, must be raised.

The software that got the vehicle to Mars’s surface must also now be exchanged for a software system that enables the robot to drive across that surface.

But it’s going to be the pictures that will enthral the public, of course.

“For the first time, we’re going to see ourselves in high-definition video landing on another planet,” said deputy project manager Matt Wallace.

“We think we’ve captured, hopefully, some pretty spectacular video. And they come with a microphone as well.”

The Perseverance team was still revelling in the excitement of the landing hours after it had happened.

Swati Mohan is the guidance, navigation and controls (GNC) operations lead on the project. She was given the honour of calling the rover down as the telemetry came back to Earth.

She told the BBC: “I was so focused on what I needed to hear in order to know what I needed to say that it wasn’t until after I called ‘touchdown confirmed’ and people started cheering that I realised, ‘oh my gosh, we actually did this. We are actually on Mars. This is not a practice run. This is the real thing’.”

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.


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