A mythical red planet in the cold, distant space suddenly became far more realistic on Monday. Then Nasa released a video of a robot landing on Mars.
It’s NASA’s new Mars robot “Perseverance” that lands in the historical video.
– The photos were taken in several directions in both color and video. Sound recordings have even been made from the planet. We have never seen a video of a landing on Mars before, says Marianne Vinje Tantillo, who is sector manager at the Norwegian Space Center.
The video lasts for three minutes and 25 seconds. It shows how the parachute is triggered and the robot’s first encounter with the surface of the red planet.
– It was great to put the first man on Mount Everest, on the South Pole and on the Moon. The next thing is to get a man or woman on Mars. It is the next obvious step for humans to explore, says the section leader at the Norwegian Space Center.
Tantillo explains that the “Perseverance” robot has three goals in its mission on Mars:
- Learn more about Mars.
- Look for signs of life.
- Prepare man for further exploration of the planet.
Those who expected to see an octopus-like creature stick their heads out of a tent and wave up to the camera during the landing may have been disappointed. The life the robot should look for is prehistoric life – in other words fossils.
Now the robot will collect samples from Earth on Mars, which will be collected with another robot in 2026. These samples will not be with us at home on Earth until eight to ten years from now.
– It is not about small green men, but about traces of life. It is at best a question of microorganisms, and then probably something fossil-like, Tantillo explains.
– Now they have landed in an area where it is believed to have been a river delta. Then the question is whether microorganisms may have existed here, and whether we can find fossils we recognize the structure of.
She explains that life on Mars can say something about both life on Earth and potential life on other planets. The elements we need that facilitate life exist on Mars.
The next step for humanity
The goal of human exploration of Mars is increasingly within reach.
Tantillo believes a desire to explore the unknown and constantly move boundaries further lies in human nature. Preparations are now being made all the way up to Mars to be able to take this next step.
Together with “Perseverance”, Nasa has launched a small helicopter, which they hope will be able to fly on the planet, despite the thin atmosphere up there.
One of the seven scientific instruments on board is the Norwegian-developed georadar Rimfax.
– For Norway, this is exactly what is big – that an instrument developed here is part of such a prestigious assignment, Tantillo believes.
While Nasa and the European space agency ESA are most concerned with exploring the planet, others see the possibility that humans may one day live on the red planet.
Among other things, Elon Musk has repeatedly stated his goal of colonizing the planet – and has even said that he believes he will die on Mars.
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