Touchdown! Robot lands safely on Mars

Journey’s end: The rover landed after a trip of millions of miles lasting seven months. © NASA

Is there life on Mars? Last week, NASA rover Perseverance touched down on the nearby planet after a journey of over seven months. While on Mars, it will be searching for clues of life.

What’s happening

Touchdown confirmed”, the controller said.

The room of people at NASA’s mission control jumped up and began cheering and clapping. Years of work, millions of dollars and a seven-month journey through space were worth it. Their rover had landed on Mars.

Find out more

Perseverance arrived on Mars late last Thursday night. The team in charge was delighted. Landing on Mars is so difficult that experts call it the seven minutes of terror.

The rover is the fifth NASA has sent to Mars. It is also the biggest and most advanced. It is as large as a 4x4. There is a robotic arm for picking up pieces of rock to study. And it even has a separate drone called Ingenuity that can break away and fly around large areas.

Perseverance has already sent back some picture from the surface of the planet. Now, it will start moving towards the edge of a crater called Jezero to look for ancient water. Scientists hope this could be proof that there was once life on the planet.

So, is there life on Mars?

Some say…

Probably not. Mars is a desert of red dust. It is colder than the Antarctic. The winds are fast and dangerous. The air is filled with CO2. There may have been life once. But that was before Mars lost its water and became so empty. It is unlikely to expect anything lives there naturally anymore.

Others think…

Maybe! Just because Mars seems empty and harsh to us, some creatures might thrive. The Sahara desert is dry and dangerous, but creatures have evolved to survive. In the deep sea, animals live happily miles underwater without sunlight or heat. Life probably does exist on Mars. It just might not look much like us.

You Decide

  1. Would you go and live on Mars if you had the chance?

Activities

  1. Imagine you have landed on Mars and you meet an alien. Write down three things you would like to ask it about Mars and three things you would tell it about Earth.

Some People Say...

“The guys who walk on Mars are going to be historic.”

Buzz Aldrin, American astronaut

What do you think?

Word Watch

Touchdown
The word used to describe the moment when a spacecraft touches land after a flight.
Mission control
The group of people on the ground who control the flight of a spacecraft.
Rover
A vehicle that looks like a 4x4 car. It is designed to drive around on the surface of a planet. It has big wheels and drives slowly and carefully.
Perseverance
The act of continuing to do something in a hard situation. The name was chosen by a 13-year-old student from Virginia, USA.
Delighted
To be very happy or excited about something.
Seven minutes of terror
During this time, scientists on Earth have no control of the spacecraft and have to hope it lands itself.
Drone
An aircraft without a pilot on board. They are flown using a remote control and are often used to take pictures of areas from above.
Ingenuity
A word meaning skill or cleverness in discovering or inventing something.
Ancient water
Millions of years ago, Mars was much more like Earth. Scientists hope that finding ancient water could prove that life once existed.

Subjects

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