1-ton, SUV-size Perseverance rover touches down on Mars

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First photo transmitted back after the successful landing of the NASA Perseverance rover on Feb. 18, 2020. / NASA

After a seven-month, 292-million-mile journey, NASA’s fastest and best-equipped rover ever — Perseverance— touched down safely Thursday on the red planet, NASA officials said.

The $2.7 billion rover landed in an ancient lake bed called Jezero Crater at about 3:55 p.m. EST on Thursday, the jubilant officials said.

The two-year Perseverance mission is the latest and most ambitious effort by NASA to find evidence of past life on Mars. The 1-ton, SUV-size rover will spend the next two years prospecting for evidence of ancient microbes. It will pack up any promising soil or rock samples into small tubes, to be cached for retrieval by future missions and brought back to Earth for analysis. …

Bristling with 23 cameras, sensors, a laser and a drill-equipped robotic arm, Perseverance will spend the next two years prospecting for rock or soil specimens that might harbor evidence of ancient life.

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