Nasa’s astrobiology rover Perseverance pulls off historic Mars landing

Another experimental prototype carried by Perseverance is a miniature helicopter designed to test the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. If successful, the 1.8kg helicopter could lead to low-altitude aerial surveillance of distant worlds, officials said.

The daredevil nature of the rover’s descent to the Martian surface, at a site that Nasa described as both tantalising to scientists and especially hazardous for landing, was a momentous achievement in itself.

The multi-stage spacecraft carrying the rover soared into the top of Martian atmosphere at nearly 16 times the speed of sound on Earth, angled to produce aerodynamic lift while jet thrusters adjusted its trajectory.

A jarring, supersonic parachute…

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