Bill Ingalls / NASA via APMembers of NASA’s Perseverance rover team react in mission control after receiving confirmation the spacecraft successfully touched down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (Bill Ingalls / NASA via AP)
A NASA rover streaked through the orange Martian sky and landed on the planet on Thursday, accomplishing the riskiest step yet in an epic quest to discover whether life ever existed on Mars.
Ground controllers at the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, cheered and exchanged high-fives on receiving confirmation that the six-wheeled Perseverance had touched down on Mars, long a deathtrap for incoming spacecraft.
It took a tense 11 1/2 minutes for the signal to reach Earth.
“Touchdown confirmed! Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking signs of past life,” flight controller Swati Mohan announced to colleagues.