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KAPKANAVERAL, Fla – A NASA rover stormed a landing on Mars in the riskiest step on Thursday to bring back stones that could answer whether there was ever life on the red planet

Ground controllers at the Space Agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, nervously contented themselves with the descent of Persistence onto the Martian surface, long a death trap for incoming spaceships It takes 11 1/2 minutes for a signal to confirm success, reached the earth

The landing of the six-wheeled vehicle would mark the third visit to Mars in just over a week. Two spaceships from the United Arab Emirates and China went into orbit around the planet on consecutive days last week

All three missions started in July to take advantage of the close alignment of Earth and Mars and covered approximately 300 million miles in nearly seven months

Perseverance, the largest and most advanced rover ever sent by NASA, was the ninth spacecraft to successfully land on Mars, each of them from the US.

The plutonium-powered, wagon-sized rover aimed at NASA’s smallest and most difficult target to date: a 5 by 4 mile strip of an old river delta full of pits, cliffs and rock fields

Scientists believe that if life ever flourished on Mars, it would have happened 3 to 4 billion years ago when water was still flowing on the planet

Percy, as it is also known, was designed to use his two-meter arm to drill down and collect rock samples that could contain evidence of past microscopic life.The plan was to take three to four dozen chalk-sized samples in tubes and set aside on Mars to be fetched from a Fetch Rover and brought home from another missile ship, with the goal of getting them back to Earth as early as 2031

“Are we alone in this vast cosmic desert, just flying through space or is life much more common? Does it only occur whenever and wherever the conditions are ripe? “Said assistant project scientist Ken Williford,” Big, fundamental questions and we don’t yet know the answers. So we’re about to possibly answer these enormous questions ”

China’s spaceship contains a smaller rover that will also look for evidence of life – if it is safely out of orbit in May or June

The descent of perseverance has been described by NASA as “seven minutes of terror” in which air traffic controllers can only watch helplessly. The preprogrammed spaceship is designed to capture the Martian atmosphere at 19To hit 500 km / h It was then slowed down with a parachute and a rocket-guided platform known as a sky crane to lower the rover the rest of the way to the surface

Mars has proven to be a treacherous place: in less than three months in 1999, a U was createdS. The spaceship was destroyed on entering orbit because engineers mixed metric and English units and an American lander crashed on Mars after its engines failed prematurely

NASA is working with the European Space Agency to bring the stones home, the Perseverance mission alone cost nearly $ 3 billion

The only way to confirm or rule out signs of past lives is to analyze the samples in the best laboratories in the world. Instruments small enough to be sent to Mars would not have the precision required

“The Mars sample return project is probably the greatest challenge we have ever attempted within NASA,” said Lori Glaze, director of planetary science, “and we are not doing any of these things alone”

The Department of Health and Science of the Associated Press receives support from the Department of Science Education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content

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World News – CA – The NASA rover is heading for a landing on Mars