A World of Firsts

Mars Perseverance Sol 534 - Right Mastcam-Z Camera: NASA's Mars Perseverance rover recently began driving once again, descending slightly as the team continues to explore the delta and search for interesting targets. This image was acquired using the Left Mastcam-Z camera on Aug. 21, 2022 (Sol 534). Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU. Download image ›

The Mars 2020 Mission is pushing the boundaries of what is possible on Mars.

The most incredible part of working on Mars 2020, for me, has been the versatility of both the hardware and the operations team to push our spacecraft to achieve things they were not originally designed for.

The first example of this was the surprise extension of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s operations. Ingenuity made history when it took flight and hovered above the ground -- the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. This milestone turned out to be only a modest beginning for Ingenuity, which was promoted from a technology demonstration to a full-time terrain scout for the Perseverance rover. Ingenuity has since broken every speed record set by previous rovers, achieved the longest distance travelled by a vehicle in a single sol on Mars, collected valuable observations, and has demystified the possibility of extraterrestrial flight. In short, Ingenuity has forever freed us from the surface in planetary exploration.

Perseverance is also revolutionizing rover capabilities, exemplified recently by the SuperCam Team’s effort to expand their observational range.

Mounted to Perseverance’s "head", SuperCam is a multipurpose instrument that combines a powerful laser with a telescope and spectrometer to measure rock chemistry and mineralogy. The laser beam is used to generate a superheated plasma on a rock surface. The light that radiates from this plasma is measured by SuperCam’s spectrometer and converted to chemical information. SuperCam was designed with a guaranteed focus distance of 7 meters, but the capacity to shoot even further. Over the past year, the SuperCam team has been testing how much further we can focus our laser and still generate a radiative plasma.

On sol 328 (January 22nd), we successfully achieved the longest laser-based spectroscopy analysis ever performed on Mars, reaching 10 meters. We are now preparing to test our laser on a target 11 meters away – as far away as a telephone-pole is tall! We have not yet found a suitable target for this test, but Perseverance has recently begun moving again, after a short pause to assess foreign object debris on the drill chuck. Our team will be eagerly looking for targets as we rove.

By systematically pushing our performance envelope on Mars, we can analyze a greater diversity of rock targets that the rover drives by, which promises to play a key role in exploring new regions where samples may be collected for return to Earth. It is simply amazing to watch, in real time, as we extend the limits of what is possible and broaden our exploration horizons.

About This Blog

These blog updates are provided by self-selected Mars 2020 mission team members who love to share what Perseverance is doing with the public.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these blogs are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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  • Mariah Baker
    Planetary Scientist, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
    Washington, DC
  • Matthew Brand
    SuperCam/ChemCam Engineer, Los Alamos National LaboratoryLos Alamos National Laboratory
  • Sawyer Brooks
    Docking Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Adrian Brown
    Deputy Program Scientist, NASA HQ
    Washington, DC
  • Denise Buckner
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Fred Calef III
    Mapping Specialist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Alyssa Deardorff
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Kenneth Farley
    Project Scientist, Caltech
    Pasadena, CA
  • Phylindia Gant
    Mars 2020 Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Brad Garczynski
    Student Collaborator, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN
  • Erin Gibbons
    Student Collaborator, McGill University
    Montreal, Canada
  • Michael Hecht
    Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) Principal Investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Westford, MA
  • Louise Jandura
    Chief Engineer for Sampling & Caching, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Bavani Kathir
    Student Collaborator on Mastcam-Z, Western Washington University
  • Lydia Kivrak
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Rachel Kronyak
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Steven Lee
    Perseverance Deputy Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • An Li
    Student Collaborator on PIXL, University of Washington
  • Justin Maki
    Imaging Scientist and Mastcam-Z Deputy Principal Investigator, NASA/JPL
  • Sarah Milkovich
    Assistant Science Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Eleanor Moreland
    Ph.D. Student, Rice University
    Houston, Texas
  • Matt Muszynski
    Vehicle Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Claire Newman
    Atmospheric Scientist, Aeolis Research
    Altadena, CA
  • Avi Okon
    Sampling Operations Deputy Lead, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Pegah Pashai
    Vehicle Systems Engineer Lead, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • David Pedersen
    Co-Investigator, PIXL Instrument, Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
    Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Eleni Ravanis
    Student Collaborator, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
    Honolulu, HI
  • Kathryn Stack
    Deputy Project Scientist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Vivian Sun
    Science Operations Systems Engineer, Staff Scientist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Iona (Brockie) Tirona
    Sampling Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Jennifer Trosper
    Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Vandi Verma
    Chief Engineer for Robotic Operations, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Rick Welch
    Deputy Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Roger Wiens
    Principal Investigator, SuperCam / Co-Investigator, SHERLOC instrument, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN

Tools on the Perseverance Rover+

The Perseverance rover has tools to study the history of its landing site, seek signs of ancient life, collect rock and soil samples, and help prepare for human exploration of Mars. The rover carries:


Where is the Rover?

Image of a rover pin-point at Perseverance's location on Mars, Jezero Crater

View Map ›