Was There Life on Mars 3 to 4 Billion Years Ago?
During a virtual briefing on Tuesday, Jennifer Trosper the deputy manager of a NASA project confirmed that a rover was headed for a "bullseye" landing at Jezero Crater on Mars — as part of an ongoing elaborate operation to ascertain whether life flourished on the wet, watery planet 3 to 4 billion years ago.
"I can tell you that Perseverance is operating perfectly right now, that all systems are go for landing. The targeting is on the bullseye and we are headed exactly where we want to be for Mars," she affirmed.
Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's science mission chief, shared his excitement.
"Our journey has been from following the water, to seeing whether this planet was habitable, to finding complex chemicals. And now we're at the advent of an entirely new phase, returning samples, an aspirational goal that has been with the science community for decades."
Better Technology, Better Results?
Faster than previous Mars vehicles but still moving at a glacial pace, the six-wheeled Perseverance is expected to land on Mars this Thursday and will drive across Jezero — collecting for scientific analysis core samples of the most enticing rocks and gravel from this galactic curiosity.
Steep cliffs, deep pits and fields of rocks could cripple or doom Perseverance, following its seven-minute atmospheric plunge.
With an 11 1/2-minute communication lag each way, the rover will be on its own and unable to rely on flight controllers.