Biggest Moments on Mars: NASA’s Perseverance Rover 2021 Year in Review

A new video looks back on the six-wheeled scientist’s first 10 months on the Red Planet and all that it’s accomplished so far.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Perseverance rover has been busy since its harrowing touchdown in Mars’ Jezero Crater this past February.

In the 10 months since, the car-size rover has driven 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers), set a record for the longest rover drive in a Martian day, taken more than 100,000 images, and collected six samples of Martian rock and atmosphere that could eventually be brought to Earth for further study.

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NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Reaches a Total of 30 Minutes Aloft

Ingenuity sits on a slightly inclined surface with about 6-degree tilt at the center of the frame, just north of the southern ridge of “Séíitah” geologic unit. The Perseverance rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument took this image on Dec. 1, 2021, when the rotorcraft was about 970 feet (295 meters) away. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

With its recent 17th flight, the Red Planet rotorcraft reaches an airborne milestone the team never considered achievable. Its 18th flight is scheduled for no earlier than today.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The 17th flight of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on Dec. 5 pushed the total flight time past the 30-minute mark. The 117-second sortie brought history’s first aircraft to operate from the surface of another world closer to its original airfield, “Wright Brothers Field,” where it will await the arrival of the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover, currently exploring “South Séítah” region of Mars’ Jezero Crater.

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NASA’s Perseverance Captures Challenging Flight by Mars Helicopter

Video from the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover captures a closeup view of the 13th flight of the agency’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, on Sept. 4, 2021. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

Recently downlinked imagery of a September flight has allowed the rover imaging team to put together a video of rotorcraft performing to near-perfection.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Video footage from NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s 13th flight on Sept. 4 provides the most detailed look yet of the rotorcraft in action.

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Are We Alone in the Universe? NASA Calls for New Framework

TRAPPIST-1 f super Earth exoplanet (Credit: NASA)

by Elizabeth Landau
NASA Headquarters

How do we understand the significance of new scientific results related to the search for life? When would we be able to say, “yes, extraterrestrial life has been found?” 

NASA scientists are encouraging the scientific community to establish a new framework that provides context for findings related to the search for life. Writing in the journal Nature, they propose creating a scale for evaluating and combining different lines of evidence that would  ultimately lead to answering the ultimate question: Are we alone in the universe?   

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Hear Sounds From Mars Captured by NASA’s Perseverance Rover

This illustration of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover indicates the location of its two microphones. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Two microphones aboard the six-wheeled spacecraft add a new dimension to the way scientists and engineers explore the Red Planet.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Thanks to two microphones aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover, the mission has recorded nearly five hours of Martian wind gusts, rover wheels crunching over gravel, and motors whirring as the spacecraft moves its arm. These sounds allow scientists and engineers to experience the Red Planet in new ways – and everyone is invited to listen in.

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NASA’s Perseverance Sheds More Light on Jezero Crater’s Watery Past

The escarpment the science team refers to as “Scarp a” is seen in this image captured by Perseverance rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument on Apr. 17, 2021. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

Pictures from NASA’s latest six-wheeler on the Red Planet suggest the area’s history experienced significant flooding events.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A new paper from the science team of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover details how the hydrological cycle of the now-dry lake at Jezero Crater is more complicated and intriguing than originally thought. The findings are based on detailed imaging the rover provided of long, steep slopes called escarpments, or scarps in the delta, which formed from sediment accumulating at the mouth of an ancient river that long ago fed the crater’s lake. 

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A Few Steps Closer to Europa: Spacecraft Hardware Makes Headway

Contamination control engineers in a clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, evaluate a propellant tank before it is installed in NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft. The tank is one of two that will be used to hold the spacecraft’s propellant. It will be inserted into the cylinder seen at left in the background, one of two cylinders that make up the propulsion module. (Credit: NASA/GSFC Denny Henry)

Take a closer look at the complex choreography involved in building NASA’s Europa Clipper as the mission to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa approaches its 2024 launch date.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) – The hardware that makes up NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft is rapidly taking shape, as engineering components and instruments are prepared for delivery to the main clean room at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. In workshops and labs across the country and in Europe, teams are crafting the complex pieces that make up the whole as mission leaders direct the elaborate choreography of building a flagship mission.

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NASA Perseverance Mars Rover to Acquire First Sample

Perseverance’s First Road Trip: This annotated image of Jezero Crater depicts the routes for Perseverance’s first science campaign (yellow hash marks) as well as its second (light-yellow hash marks). Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA is making final preparations for its Perseverance Mars rover to collect its first-ever sample of Martian rock, which future planned missions will transport to Earth. The six-wheeled geologist is searching for a scientifically interesting target in a part of Jezero Crater called the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough.”

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NASA to Brief Early Science from Perseverance Mars Rover

Perseverance’s First Road Trip: This annotated image of Jezero Crater depicts the routes for Perseverance’s first science campaign (yellow hash marks) as well as its second (light-yellow hash marks). Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA will hold a virtual media briefing at 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, July 21, to discuss early science results from the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover and its preparations to collect the first-ever Martian samples for planned return to Earth.

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Perseverance’s Robotic Arm Starts Conducting Science

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover used its dual-camera Mastcam-Z imager to capture this image of “Santa Cruz,” a hill about 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) away from the rover, on April 29, 2021, the 68th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. The entire scene is inside of Mars’ Jezero Crater; the crater’s rim can be seen on the horizon line beyond the hill. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

NASA’s newest Mars rover is beginning to study the floor of an ancient crater that once held a lake.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Perseverance rover has been busy serving as a communications base station for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter and documenting the rotorcraft’s historic flights. But the rover has also been busy focusing its science instruments on rocks that lay on the floor of Jezero Crater.

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NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover Extracts First Oxygen from Red Planet

Technicians at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory lower the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) instrument into the belly of the Perseverance rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The growing list of “firsts” for Perseverance, NASA’s newest six-wheeled robot on the Martian surface, includes converting some of the Red Planet’s thin, carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into oxygen. A toaster-size, experimental instrument aboard Perseverance called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) accomplished the task. The test took place April 20, the 60th Martian day, or sol, since the mission landed Feb. 18.

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Probing for Life in the Icy Crusts of Ocean Worlds

During 2019 field tests near Greenland’s Summit Station, a high-elevation remote observing station, the WATSON instrument is put through its paces to seek out signs of life, or biosignatures, 360 feet (110 meters) down a borehole. The winch that holds the drill pokes out the top of the drill tent. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A technique for scanning Mars rocks for microscopic fossils of ancient life is also being developed to hunt for microbes in the deep ice of Enceladus, Titan, and Europa.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Long before NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, one of its highest-level mission goals was already established: to seek out signs of ancient life on the Martian surface. In fact, the techniques used by one of the science instruments  aboard the rover could have applications on Saturn’s moons  Enceladus and Titan as well Jupiter’s moon Europa.

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NASA’s Europa Clipper Builds Hardware, Moves Toward Assembly

Europa Clipper in orbit around Europa. (Credit: NASA)

Jupiter’s moon Europa may have the potential to harbor life. The spacecraft will use multiple flybys of the moon to investigate the habitability of this ocean world.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Europa Clipper, NASA’s upcoming flagship mission to the outer solar system, has passed a significant milestone, completing its Critical Design Review. During the review, experts examined the detailed design of the spacecraft to ensure that it is ready to complete construction. The mission is now able to complete hardware fabrication and testing, and move toward the assembly and testing of the spacecraft and its payload of sophisticated science instruments.

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Another First: Perseverance Captures the Sounds of Driving on Mars

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its onboard left Navigation Camera (Navcam). The camera is located high on the rover’s mast and aids in driving. This image was acquired on Mar. 7, 2021 (Sol 16). (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s newest rover recorded audio of itself crunching over the surface of the Red Planet, adding a whole new dimension to Mars exploration.

As the Perseverance rover began to make tracks on the surface of Mars, a sensitive microphone it carries scored a first: the bangs, pings, and rattles of the robot’s six wheels as they rolled over Martian terrain.

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New Study Challenges Long-Held Theory of Fate of Mars’ Water

Mars

The new science results indicate that a large quantity of the Red Planet’s water is trapped in its crust rather than having escaped into space.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Billions of years ago, according to geological evidence, abundant water flowed across Mars and collected into pools, lakes, and deep oceans. New NASA-funded research shows a substantial quantity of its water – between 30 and 99% – is trapped within minerals in the planet’s crust, challenging the current theory that due to the Red Planet’s low gravity, its water escaped into space.

Early Mars was thought to have enough water to have covered the whole planet in an ocean roughly 100 to 1,500 meters (330 to 4,920 feet) deep – a volume roughly equivalent to half of Earth’s Atlantic Ocean. While some of this water undeniably disappeared from Mars via atmospheric escape, the new findings, published in the latest issue of Science, conclude it does not account for most of its water loss.

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