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NASA releases new Perseverance pictures — including its final descent

One photo shows the rover hanging from its parachute just before touchdown.

NASA shared new photos Friday of the successful landing of its Perseverance rover on Mars — this time with a bird's eye view.

The images were released on Perseverance's Twitter account and show the car-size robotic explorer shortly before it touched down on the red planet.

"The moment that my team dreamed of for years, now a reality. Dare mighty things," read one tweet that was accompanied by a picture of the rover in midair right before landing.

Perseverance moments before wheels touched down on the red planet on Feb. 18, 2021.
Perseverance, a car-size robotic explorer that will search for traces of ancient microbial life and collect what could be the first rocky samples from Mars that are sent back to Earth, moments before wheels touched down on the red planet on Feb. 18, 2021.NASA / JPL

A second photo shows the rover hanging from its parachute as it floated over Mars.

The rover touched down just before 4 p.m. ET Thursday, making it NASA's fifth rover to land on Mars. It will remain there for a two-year mission to roam the red planet in search of signs of ancient microbial life and to collect what could be the first rocky samples from Mars that are sent back to Earth.

The mission will not only help answer questions about the planet's history and evolution, but is also a critical step in NASA's goal of sending humans to Mars.

"I’m amazed that everything went pretty much according to plan," Steve Jurczyk, NASA's acting administrator, said Thursday in a post-landing news briefing. "When I heard the touchdown signal come back and saw the first image, I cannot tell you how overcome with emotion I was and how happy I was."

NASA's fifth Mars rover, Perseverance, successfully landed on the planet Thursday afternoon, and has begun its two-year mission to roam its surface and search for signs of ancient microbial life.
NASA's fifth Mars rover, Perseverance, successfully landed on the planet Thursday afternoon, and has begun its two-year mission to roam its surface and search for signs of ancient microbial life.NASA / JPL

The rover, which launched into space in July 2020, landed in an area known as Jezero Crater, a 28-mile-wide basin that lies just north of the Martian equator.

Evidence shows that an ancient river once flowed into the crater, forming a delta billions of years ago that had all the right ingredients for life to arise. The Perseverance will roam this area inspecting rocks as old as 3.6 billion years and searching for traces of organic matter.