After a nearly 300-million-mile journey, the Mars rover Perseverance built at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena successfully landed Thursday on the surface of the Red Planet.
The $2.4 billion, nuclear-powered probe contains main cameras built by Malin Space Science Systems in Sorrento Valley and a tiny helicopter controlled by one of Qualcomm‘s Snapdragon processors.
Staff at the JPL erupted in cheers when the rover radioed it had successfully landed after seven-minutes of nail-biting tension.
The landing had actually occurred over 11 minutes before the announcement at 12:55 p.m. because of the time needed for radio waves to cover that 127 million miles that currently separate the Red Planet from Earth.
The rover touched down in what’s known as the Jezero Crater, which is believed to have housed an ancient body of water the size of Lake Tahoe.
Perseverance is the most technologically advanced rover ever sent to Mars, tasked with the primary mission of detecting signs of ancient life. The SUV-sized rover is also carrying an astronomical first — a small helicopter dubbed Ingenuity that will become the first such craft to fly on another planet.
The rover will also collect rocks and soil that will be stored for a future return to Earth, marking the beginning of an unprecedented round-trip journey to another planet.
Perseverance launched from Cape Canaveral on July 30, 2020, propelled on its way by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.