It feels like only yesterday that we were discussing Mars Perseverance, the entire laboratory station. However, as surprising as it may appear, it will soon be a year and a half since he began his journey to the red planet, at the end of July 2020, and today marks the one-year anniversary of his successful and spectacular landing on the Martian surface and almost immediately sharing with us the first image taken by one of its cameras.
The news about Mars Perseverance was incessant during the initial weeks, both because of its deployment and start-up, and because it carried an exceptional passenger, the Ingenuity helicopter, the first gadget developed by humans to fly on another planet. A gadget created primarily to take photographs of Mars, but which proved to be far more helpful than planned, becoming an explorer capable of probing the terrain that secures Mars Perseverance’s mobility.
During these twelve months, milestones have been reached, such as the previously mentioned Ingenuity flights, the collection of samples that, if all goes as planned, will one day reach our planet, and it has also had to face adversities, such as planned disconnections due to a lack of a direct line of sight between Earth and Mars, as well as other unforeseen ones.
Mars Perseverance took samples this year, but it also provided a lot of data to us. From locating the position of what was once a lake on Mars to spectacular photographs and audio samples collected by the rover, there is something for everyone. Thus, even if there was no strategy to rescue the samples and bring them back to Earth, we could already consider the mission a huge success.
We pondered about the future of Mars Perseverance shortly after its landing, one year ago today, just as we wondered about our relationship, each day more special, with our planetary neighbor shortly after its launch, when it still had much of its trip to complete. A relationship that, if the plans are carried out, will get significantly closer over the next decade, both with the arrival on Earth of the samples that are presently being taken, and due to the still distant, uncertain, but undeniably appealing plan to bring humans to the surface of Mars.
Mars Perseverance has achieved some significant advances in this direction this year, thus it deserves a standing ovation for its first year of duty on Mars.