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Rover lands safely on Mars delivering stunning images

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(WVVA)- There's no containing the thrill of the successful touchdown of NASA's new Mars Rover inside mission control. The final approach for the spacecraft carrying the Rover, Perseverance, is described as "seven minutes of terror". An assistant professor of Physics and Astronomy at Concord University explains their anticipation.

"When you saw those scientist kind of sweating and wondering: 'Oh what's going to happen, is it going to be OK?' It's a lot of work. Years and years and if anything goes wrong, then all of that goes out the window," Gregory Simonian, Ph. D, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Concord University said.

The journey from Earth to Mars for the Rover took more than six months. It's nearly 300 million miles away, but preparations for the voyage spans a decade.

"It takes about ten years from when it's first designed to when it's approved by NASA to building it and launching it so it's been a long haul," Simonian said.

NASA's head of Science says Perseverance has a huge mission on Mars, starting with it's landing… In a Crater?

"Jezero Crater was an ancient river bed 3 billion years ago there was water flowing in there down the river into that Crater. And if you looked at the Earth at the same time, there was also water flowing, there was an atmosphere, just like at Mars. We all learned that, but what we now have a question about, which is really exciting. See, on Earth, 3 billion years ago, is when the first single cell organisms formed, so the question is, did that occur on Mars? It's really an astrobiology mission, the first of a kind in this generation of new spacecraft," NASA's head of Science, Thomas Zurbuchen said.

The first images beamed back from Mars are in black and white, even though the planet is red.

"So right they're just getting the data straight from Mars. When you get those images, the rover sends them in black and white, and usually after they use them to study, and they get all the images, and different colors the Rover sends, they use it to process and make color," Simonian said.

So is this another step closer to a manned-mission to Mars?

"I think that's really difficult to do because there's a lot of things. One you have to keep a person in a box for almost a year. Just like it took Perseverance almost a year to get there. And once they land it's going to be a challenge to set up everything. It's another challenge and I think if we work at it and want to do it, I think it's something that could be done eventually," Simonian said.

But once upon a time it was Science Fiction to land a Rover on Mars and today…It's science fact. Time will tell if earthlings will leave their footprints on the red planet one day.

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