Perseverance rover ‘dares mighty things’

The+Perseverance+rover+touches+down+on+Mars.+During+its+landing%2C+internet+users+find+a+hidden+message+in+binary+code.+Graphic+by+Sage+Cooley.

Staff Graphic by Sage Cooley

The Perseverance rover touches down on Mars. During its landing, internet users find a hidden message in binary code. Graphic by Sage Cooley.

Sage Cooley, Co-Editor-in-Chief

NASA initially scheduled its fifth Mars rover — Perseverance — to touch down on the red planet in July 2020. Then, a new mission called ‘Mars 2020: Safe at Work’ took over, where hands-on work suddenly became remote for many employees. While fans eagerly awaited the rover’s landing last month during a YouTube livestream, NASA described the challenges of creating their cosmic masterpiece from a distance. But even the most colossal setback couldn’t put an end to Perseverance. 

During its descent, internet users found an encrypted message in the rover’s parachute that reads: “Dare mighty things”.

“You can play it safe or you can grow. One of the rovers that [NASA] sent smashed into the planet because somebody didn’t make a conversion from standard to metric,” said astronomy teacher Russell Williams. “That was a very sad day for science. But look at what has happened with [Perseverance]. The errors help guide you to what you need to do next.” 

The recent livestream of the rover landing curated over 20 million views. Even before the rover lifted off, almost 11 million people submitted their names to be launched with Perseverance. 

“What’s more awesome than a space robot?” Williams said. “This one is equipped with a laser, so it can vaporize rocks. While it’s doing that, it’s using spectroscopy and analyzing what the rock is made of in real time. Now you’ve got a space laser on a space robot.”

What excites you most about Perseverance?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Perseverance boasts other exciting technologies, including the first-ever Mars helicopter called Ingenuity. Its meter-long blades compensate for the thin Martian atmosphere. Even more, the rover can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and send the sounds of Mars back to Earth. 

Junior Violet Worzella points to a few differences between this rover and its older sibling, Curiosity. 

“Perseverance has a larger turret [hand] and is more capable of collecting rock cores than previous rovers,” Worzella said. “Curiosity studied samples onsite, while Perseverance may bring these core samples back to Earth.” 

Scientists are hoping to get a better look at Mars’ ancient past. 

I think this [rover] is noteworthy because its mission involves looking for direct evidence of life,” said biology teacher Laura Stiles. “The landing site, [Jezero Crater], was specifically targeted for this reason, even though it was a challenging spot to land.”

Given the rover’s advanced photography and videography skills having already produced the first colorized images of Mars space enthusiasts look forward to watching Perseverance dare mighty things over its lifetime. 

You can play it safe or you can grow”

— Williams

In the meantime, junior Justin Cristinziano considers joining the engineering field himself someday. 

“We are the next generation; we [decide] what our technology becomes,” Cristinziano said. “[Looking back on Perseverance], we’ll be reminded that it wasn’t achievable without embracing previous failures and reaching for the stars.”