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Bishop Museum of Science and Nature holds watch party for NASA's Mars landing

Perseverance is the most advanced rover to land on Mars successfully
Posted at 8:15 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 19:27:13-05

BRANDENTON, Fla. — Just before 4 p.m. Thursday NASA’s Perseverance space rover landed on one of the most challenging terrains ever targeted by a Mars mission.

Several people came to the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in Brandenton to watch history in action.

“Thousands of things had to go right at once. What really surprised me was there was a lot of trepidation. These people weren't sure that this thing was going to work,” said Don Burns.

It did work. After spending the last seven months flying to Mars, Perseverance touched down in Jezero Crater where it will spend at least two years exploring the crater to search for signs of ancient life.

“Environments where microbial life could exist on Mars. That’s part of the mission of Perseverance is to go and find out whether those environments existed and if there was anything there that we could say perhaps was alive,” explained Howard Hochhalter, Planetarium Manager at Bishop Museum of Science and Nature.

Perseverance is the largest most sophisticated vehicle NASA has ever sent to the red planet, equipped with HD cameras to broadcast information back. It will also deliver the first helicopter to another world and collect rock samples to return to earth for a future mission.

“Testing new technologies that will pave the way for new life to arrive again on mars in the forms of humans,” Hochhalter said.

This mission has been a decade in the making. All in hopes of answering fundamental questions about life in the solar system and beyond.

“To find microbial life or the existence that it once existed on mars would be an enormous game-changer for us. Because currently at the moment there’s only one place in the universe where life has ever existed and it's right here on planet earth,” said Hochhalter.