NASA's Perseverance Mars rover looks back at its wheel tracks on March 17, 2022, the 381st Martian day, or sol, of the mission.
A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
Perseverance carries a radioisotope power system, visible on the left of the rover (featuring the large white fins). This power system, known as a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (or MMRTG), produces a dependable flow of electricity using the heat emitted from the natural radioactive decay of plutonium oxide as its "fuel."
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.
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