NASA’s Perseverance rover is halfway to Mars

After launching on July 30 to head to the Red Planet, NASA’s Perseverance rover is halfway to Mars, the space agency announced.

Late Tuesday, Julie Kangas, a navigator working on the Perseverance rover mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the rover had logged 146.3 million miles as of 1:40 p.m. PST, with another 146.3 million miles to go.

“While I don’t think there will be cake, especially since most of us are working from home, it’s still a pretty neat milestone,” Kangas said in a statement. “Next stop, Jezero Crater.”

NASA has also posted a real-time look to see where the rover is at any time.

Though Perseverance has traveled half the distance to Mars, it is not actually halfway between the two planets, Kangas added, as the sun’s gravitational influence impacts the rover’s curved trajectory.

“In straight-line distance, Earth is 26.6 million miles behind Perseverance and Mars is 17.9 million miles in front,” Kangas explained.

The $2.1 billion rover will also come with the first helicopter, known as Ingenuity, that will let researchers understand the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet. In August, NASA powered up the six lithium-ion batteries on Ingenuity.

Once Perseverance lands on Mars at the Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021, it will join the still functioning Curiosity rover and the now-deceased Opportunity rover on the Red Planet.

The mission’s duration on the Red Planet’s surface is at least one Martian year or about 687 days. While there, it will perform a number of tasks, including looking for fossilized evidence of extraterrestrial life.

NASA’s long-term goal is to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.

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