NASA succeeded in landing its Fortitude Rover on Mars on Thursday, the fifth vehicle to have traveled only without a hitch, but in the coming years, the first to post the objective of finding evidence of ancient life on Planet Red is.
“Landing confirmed!” In charge of operations control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Swati Mohan cried happily to the teams in the control room.
NASA immediately released a picture taken by the rover there. “Hello world. My first sight of the house that will be mine forever,” the official account of the rover tweeted with an extraordinary black-and-white image on which the vehicle’s shadow can be seen on the ground.
The maneuver was extremely dangerous and relieved because of the landing site, Jjero’s pit, which was the most risky.
After entering the Martian atmosphere at 20,000 km / h, friction with air raised the ship’s temperature to 1,300 ° C. The rover was protected by the heat shield, which was released only after the opening of a huge supersonic parachute.
Eight retro-rockets were slowing it down before removing its six wheels, suspended along the cable until it hit the ground.
For the first time, the US Mars Agency’s “Mars 2020” mission has the clear goal of finding traces of ancient life on the red planet, collecting more than thirty rock samples over several years.
The sealed tubes would then have to be brought back to Earth by a future mission, in the 2030s, to be analyzed and perhaps finally “able to answer one of the questions that has inhabited us for centuries.” Are, namely: Are we, we are alone in the universe? ”Said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of Science at NASA.
Perseverance is the largest and most complex vehicle ever sent to Mars. It weighs one ton and is equipped with a robot more than two meters long.
There is evidence that the mission is also the result of international cooperation: French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country designed one of Rover’s many scientific instruments, participated in the landing at the Paris headquarters of the National Studies Center Space (Cnes).