NASA has released new images of the Perseverance rover two metres above the surface of Mars as it gave more details of the mission.
The space agency’s robot successfully landed on the Red Planet just before 1pm local time on Thursday.
Speaking at a news briefing in California on Friday, NASA officials revealed the rover landed 2km from the ancient river delta it was aiming for.
It had been travelling through space for seven months before it entered the Martian atmosphere yesterday.
Perseverance then took just seven minutes to touch down, travelling at 12,100mph – or 16 times the speed of sound – towards the surface.
But ground controllers in Pasadena had another agonising 11 minutes to wait before they received confirmation of the safe landing, with radio signals travelling 33.9 million miles between Mars and Earth at the speed of light.
The rover slowed down as it plummeted closer and closer to the surface, releasing a 70ft parachute and a sky crane to lower itself the final 60ft.
NASA chose to land Perseverance in an ancient river delta and former lake known as the Jezero Crater.
Here it will drill deep down into the sediment of where the river once flowed, collecting material that may hold signs of life.
Although the work has only just begun, NASA managers breathed a sigh of relief yesterday that their $2.7bn (£1.9bn) mission didn’t end in a crash landing.
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