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  4. NASA’s Perseverance lands on Mars - 9 rovers that have touched down on Red Planet - FULL LIST

NASA’s Perseverance lands on Mars - 9 rovers that have touched down on Red Planet - FULL LIST

The United States is the only country that has operated a rover on Mars' surface. NASA has sent 9 rovers to Mars.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Updated on: February 19, 2021 13:59 IST
Perseverance rover
Image Source : NASA

This illustration depicts NASA's Perseverance rover operating on the surface of Mars. 

NASA’s Perseverance rover has landed on Mars. The car-sized rover will begin searching for signs of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet. Perseverance is said to be the most advanced astrobiology laboratory ever sent by any space agency to another world.

According to NASA, Perseverance is the biggest and most advanced rover ever sent by NASA to the Red Planet. It is the ninth spacecraft since the 1970s to successfully land on Mars. So far, six space agencies -- NASA, Russia's Roscosmos, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), China National Space Administration and United Arab Emirates Space Agency have put spacecraft in Martian orbit. But the United States is the only country that has operated a craft on Mars' surface.

Take a look at all 9 Mars rovers:

1. VIKING 1

Viking 1 was the first of two spacecraft that NASA sent to Mars. It was launched as part of the agency's Viking program. The mission was launched on August 20, 1975. The Viking 1 Orbiter was inserted into Mars orbit on June 19, 1976. Its landing was originally planned for July 4, 1976. But the agency delayed the exercise after images showed that the surface was too rough for a soft landing. The landing finally took place on July 20. It landed at Chryse Planitia. It was the first attempt by the United States at landing on Mars. The mission ended on November 11, 1982.

2. Viking 2

Viking 2 was launched on September 9, 1975. It arrived at the Red Planet on August 7, 1976. The lander separated from the orbiter on September 3, 1976 and landed at Utopia Planitia. The lander operated on the surface for 1316 days. It was turned off on April 12, 1980 after its batteries failed. The lander was powered by radioisotope generators.

READ MORE: Who is Swati Mohan? Meet the Indian-American genius behind NASA’s Perseverance rover

3. Mars Pathfinder

Mars Pathfinder was launched on December 4, 1996. It landed on July 4, 1997 on Mars's Ares Vallis. Scientists believed that the landing site was an ancient flood plain in Mars's northern hemisphere. It is among the rockiest parts of Mars. The rover conducted many experiments with scientific instruments on the Martian surface. It studied the Martian atmosphere, climate, and geology and the composition of its rocks and soil. The mission ended on September 27, 1997.

4. Spirit

Spirit was a robotic rover on Mars. It was launched on June 10, 2003. It landed successfully within the impact crater Gusev on Mars on January 4, 2004. Spirit went on to function effectively over twenty times longer than NASA planners expected. It logged 7.73 km of driving instead of the planned 600 m. The rover became stuck in a sand trap in 2009. This hampered recharging of its batteries. The last communication was sent to the rover on March 22, 2010.

5. Opportunity

Opportunity was launched on July 7, 2003. It landed in Meridiani Planum on January 25, 2004. The rover had traveled a distance of 45.16 km before NASA's last contact in June 2018. The communication was lost due to the planetary dust storm on Red Planet. It is considered one of NASA's most successful missions. The rover had survived moderate dust storms and in 2011 reached Endeavour crater. The mission officially ended on February 13, 2019.

6. Phoenix

Phoenix was NASA's sixth successful landing on Mars. The robotic spacecraft landed on Mars on May 25, 2008 in the northern high latitudes -- dominated by subsurface ground ice. NASA used the mission to assess the local habitability and to research the history of water on the planet. The rover operated until November 2, 2008. The mission ended on November 10, 2008. The rover successfully completed all planned experiments and observations on the planet.

7. Curiosity

Curiosity was launched on November 26, 2011. It landed on Aeolis Palus inside the Gale Crater on August 6, 2012. Its objective is to investigate Mars' habitability and study its climate and geology. It also collected data for a possible human mission to Mars. The rover is still operational. Its design served as the basis for NASA's 2021 Perseverance mission.

8. InSight

The mission was launched on May 5, 2018. It successfully landed at Elysium Planitia on Mars on November 26, 2018. InSight is the first mission to explore Mars' interior. The rover's objectives are to place a seismometer on the Martian surface to measure seismic activity. It will provide accurate 3D models of the planet's interior. The rover is still operational.

9. Perseverance

Perseverance is a car-sized Mars rover. It will explore the Jezero crater on Mars. Jezero is thought to have held giant lake billions of years ago. Scientists believe that there is a possibility of signs of life in the crater. It was launched on July 30, 2020 and landed on Mars on February 18. Perseverance is carrying seven new scientific instruments. It has a total of 19 cameras and two microphones. It is also carrying the mini-helicopter Ingenuity, an experimental aircraft that will attempt the first powered flight on another planet. Perseverance is the biggest, most advanced rover ever sent by NASA to the Red Planet.

Although NASA managed to send nine rovers to Mars in the last five decades, it was Soviet Union that first landed on the Red Planet. The lander, Mars 3, touched down on the Red Planet's surface on December 2, 1971. The rover had even transmitted a first partial image but the contact was lost after 110 seconds. 

READ MORE: NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars

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