What just happened? NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has safely landed on the Red Planet following a 203-day trip in which it traveled a mind boggling 293 million miles to its new forever home. Shortly after touching down, Perseverance sent back the first image it captured on Mars, from one of the rover’s hazard cameras.

The suspenseful landing unfolded live on YouTube yesterday afternoon as millions of viewers from around the world tuned in to witness the historic event. Any number of things could have went wrong and caused the whole mission to fail but fortunately, luck was on NASA’s side as all of the necessary sequences went off without a hitch.

NASA’s latest rover and its accompanying helicopter, Ingenuity, launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on July 30, 2020. The 2,263-pound rover is about the size of an SUV and will peruse Mars’ Jezero Crater in search of signs of ancient microbial life. Perseverance will even collect soil samples for a future return mission.

When it is all said and done, NASA will have invested roughly $2.7 billion into the project, making it the seventh most expensive planetary exploration program in NASA’s history.

Images courtesy NASA