Alabama built rocket carries NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover to the red planet

Feb 19, 2021

Rocket engineers in Huntsville may be breathing a bit easier following the landing of the NASA’s new Mars Lander. The Perseverance Rover touched down at Jezero Crater to search for evidence of ancient life on the red planet. The robot blasted off aboard an Alabama built Atlas-V rocket. Heavy lift Atlas and Delta rockets are built at the United Launch Alliance factory near Decatur. ULA’s website points out that Atlas or Delta rockets have been used to carry all of NASA’s missions to Mars, dating back to Mariner 4 in 1964, which was the space program's first flight to the red planet. Most recently, an Atlas-V blasted off with the previous Mars rover called Curiosity. In addition, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center also managed a program to develop a new navigation system to enable Perseverance to pick its own landing site. On board radar enabled the new Mars rover to scan the surface of Mars and adjust its path to a safe touchdown. Perseverance will use a drill to dig into Jezero Crater, which is believed to have been a lake in Mars’ ancient past. The rover also carries a small helicopter called Ingenuity, which is designed to fly over the Martian surface on its own mission of exploration.