December 28, 2021

What has NASA's Perseverance rover accomplished since landing on the surface of Mars in February 2021? Surface Operations Mission Manager Jessica Samuels reflects on a year filled with groundbreaking discoveries at Jezero Crater and counts up the rover's achievements:

  • More than 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers) driven
  • A new record for the longest drive in a Martian day
  • Six samples and counting of Martian rock and atmosphere that could eventually be brought to Earth for further study
  • More than 50 gigabytes of science data
  • More than 100,000 images returned, including two "selfies"
  • 18 flights by NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which hitched a ride and coordinates flights with the Perseverance rover

Samuels also explains the next phase of Perseverance’s mission: to explore the delta that formed in Jezero billions of years ago from sediment that an ancient river carried to the shores of the lake that once existed in the crater.

A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover is characterizing the planet's geology and past climate and paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. Perseverance is the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

For more information on the Perseverance rover, visit


Jessica Samuels, Perseverance Surface Operations Mission Manager:

In the 10 months since the rover landed, we’ve been busy! And it’s been a year of perseverance. From operating during COVID-19, to the challenges we experienced with sampling, to interpreting the scientific results, it’s such an appropriate name for the vehicle – but also for the team and the mission itself.

This mission has a series of firsts that will help future generations understand more about our solar system. One of my favorite moments was seeing our first rock core sample – looking down the tube when it was still in the drill bit and confirming that it was indeed a success.

Now that we've collected samples, everyone wants to know when and how they'll be coming back. We can't wait for the future mission to pick them up and ferry them to earth to analyze if any of them show signs of ancient life.

Another highlight of this year was working with the helicopter team to deploy Ingenuity and experience the first powered flight on another planet. It was so amazing to see the team adapt to environmental changes to keep flying. The helicopter has become a real asset and partner to our science team.

It feels great to be part of making history. What motivates us, as engineers and scientists exploring another planet, is the opportunity to continuously learn more.

Now that we’ve toured the floor of Jezero Crater, we look forward to investigating the delta -- a part of the crater where a river fed into a lake in the distant past. It's almost as if we're starting a new mission because we’ll start to cover new ground and make new scientific discoveries.

What I'm most proud of is the team – how we operate the rover, overcome challenges, and the dedication that everyone brings to their job each day and every day.



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