BALTIMORE, md. — Right now, a little piece of Maryland is on Mars. NASA's Perseverance Rover landed on Mars Thursday, February 18. It landed in the Jezero Crater, which is thought to have once been a lake. You can follow Perseverance here.
Perseverance is powered by something called a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator or MMRTG created by Teledyne Energy Systems in Hunt Valley. It's a nuclear battery that converts plutonium into more than 110 watts of electricity. It also produces heat to maintain the rover's system at a proper operating temperature, since it's so cold in space and on the surface of mars.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski tweeted, recognizing the work of these local experts. He wrote, "With NASA's Perseverance reaching Mars today, I want to congratulate the scientists and engineers who made this incredible feat possible - including those at Teledyne Energy Systems in Hunt Valley, where the rover's power source was designed and built."
Perseverance is the largest rover NASA has landed and it wasn't an easy task. The rover had just seven minutes to go from moving at thousands of miles per hour to zero. It was a success and now Perseverance is focused on the mission, to find proof of ancient life.
"We've been thinking about the possibility of life on other planets for hundreds of years now. And this is our first opportunity to perhaps find it," said Hakeem Oluseyi, Astrophysicist.
Katie Stack Morgan, a JPL Research Scientist, added, "and based on everything we know about that environment, it was habitable. Life should have been there. And so I think we are very optimistic, I'm very optimistic, that we will find signs of ancient life there if they ever existed on Mars."
This mission will be the first to return samples to earth, to fly a helicopter on Mars for aerial pictures and to create oxygen on Mars from carbon dioxide.