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The rover was sent to Mars to look for signs of ancient life and collect rock samples to be returned to Earth. The mission will hopefully last at least one Mars year, or about 687 Earth days.
It landed in the Jezero Crater on the planet with 43 empty sample containers. NASA hopes that at least 20 samples can be successfully collected.
The rover cored its first rock in September 2021 and collected two samples from it. Perseverance has cored several rocks since then.
Attached to the belly of the Perseverance rover was the Ingenuity Helicopter, which touched down on Mars in April 2021. Ingenuity was the first ever helicopter to be sent to another planet. It was sent as a technology demonstration to test the first powered flight on Mars.
“Ingenuity’s sole purpose was to prove we can fly on Mars, period. And to do that we had 30 days. 30 days in which we had planned out five flights. And thankfully they all went extremely well,” Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity team lead said. “After that 30 day window, we were extended into our operations demonstration phase. Which we’re currently in and continue to operate in, now that we’ve flown 19 successful flights in the last nine months.”
That same month Ingenuity landed, after an unsuccessful flight attempt and overcoming a software issue, the helicopter made its first flight. The rover was in the air for a total of 39.1 seconds.
In May 2021, Ingenuity completed its fifth flight and its first one-way flight. The helicopter reached a record altitude at the time of 33 feet.
Currently, Ingenuity is in the operations demonstration phase of its mission. During this phase, the NASA team will explore how aerial scouting could benefit future Mars missions. The helicopter has traveled a total of 3.8 kilometers, according to Tzanetos.