NASA’s Perseverance rover, its most sophisticated one yet, successfully landed on the surface of Mars on Thursday after leaving Earth at the end of July. This is the space agency’s fifth rover to land on the Red Planet, where it will participate in a nearly $3 billion, two-year mission.
The rover, roughly the size of a car, will comb the Martian surface for evidence of ancient life and collect rock, microfossil, and soil samples from Jezero Crater to be sent back to Earth by the early 2030s. The crater is the site of an ancient lake that existed 3.9 billion years ago.
Perseverance’s descent to Mars’ surface, according to NBC News, was dubbed the “seven minutes of terror” due to the complex sequence of programmed events that had to occur at specific times in order to successfully land the robotic explorer. When the rover’s touchdown was confirmed at 3:55 p.m. (EST), NASA officials in the control room at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California shot up from their seats with an elated uproar of cheers and clapping.
Perseverance, through its special Twitter account, posted the minute it touched down: “I’m safe on Mars. Perseverance will get you anywhere.”
Shortly after that, its account tweeted an image of the planet’s surface, saying, “Hello, world. My first look at my forever home.”
Notably, Perseverance is not the only recent visitor to Mars. Two other spacecraft launched by the China and the United Arab Emirates arrived earlier this month and entered the planet’s orbit.
On top of searching for ancient life and collecting geological samples, Perseverance will snap pictures to send back to Earth and produce the first-ever recording of sound from Mars.
But that’s not the only groundbreaking—or rather groundless—thing set to happen.
Attached to Perseverance’s belly is a revolutionary, four-pound helicopter named Ingenuity, which is set to take part in the first controlled flight on another planet. Ingenuity, Wired reported, will be test-flown later this spring.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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Historic House Vote Expels Rep. George Santos Amidst Scandal
In a turn of events, the House of Representatives made history on Friday with a vote to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), marking the first such expulsion in over two decades. A moment fraught with gravity unfolded as Speaker Mike Johnson wielded his gavel to formalize Santos’ removal, setting a precedent in congressional annals.
Santos, indicted on 23 counts related to wire fraud, identity theft, and other charges, has not faced conviction but stands accused of misusing campaign funds for opulent purchases. The bipartisan vote, tallying 311 to 114, signaled robust support for expulsion, with a marginally higher number of Republicans opting to retain Santos.
Questions loomed as Speaker Johnson left the chamber, his silence leaving the fate of the ongoing government spending battle uncertain. According to reports from Fox News, Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer emphasized the non-partisan nature of the decision, asserting that members concluded Santos had tarnished the House’s reputation and was unfit for representation.
Within the GOP, conflicting opinions emerged, with Rep. Darrell Issa arguing against expulsion, citing the presumption of innocence. The tight-lipped stance of the House Ethics Committee played a pivotal role in the deliberations.
Conversely, members of the New York Republican delegation, led by Rep. Marc Molinaro, asserted Santos’ commission of crimes, justifying expulsion based on a comprehensive investigation.
Santos himself predicted the outcome in an exclusive morning interview on “FOX & Friends.” This vote not only underlines the House’s rare use of expulsion powers but also sets a critical precedent in handling members facing severe legal challenges.
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