NASA’s new rover, Perseverance, was confirmed to have landed on Mars around 4:00 PM EST on Thursday. Also known as “Percy,” the spacecraft made a 292.5 million mile, and 6 month long, trek across the galaxy from Earth before landing itself flawlessly on Mars’ surface.

Shortly after its landing, Percy sent back images of the landing site near the Jezero Crater. The accomplishment marks a new era of human exploration on the Red Planet that will advance well into the 2030s. The team at NASA was thrilled and relieved to have pulled off the feat all while under the duress of the coronavirus pandemic. Even President Biden called to share his congratulations with NASA Administrator Steve Jurcyk and his team. 

Perseverance’s goal will be to explore the Jezero Crater which was the site of an ancient lake that existed on the planet almost 4 billion years ago. The rover will collect rock and microfossil samples that will eventually be returned to Earth in later missions. 

This will be the first time that samples are ever collected from Mars. The first sound recordings from Mars will also be collected. In addition, the first helicopter flight on another planet will take place. The helicopter, Ingenuity, made the trip along with Percy to execute a series of flights, the first of which will last about 20 seconds.

The knowledge that stands to be obtained from this excursion over the course of the next decade has NASA and science excerpts excited for what the future could hold for the first human exploration of Mars.