11 eye-opening images from NASA’s Mars missions

A look back on iconic Mars missions to commemorate NASA’s successful Perseverance landing this week.

Nestled in the nose cone of the Atlas V rocket, NASA’s Perseverance took to space last summer, and this week it successfully touched down on the Red Planet. The newest Mars rover has roughly the same dimensions as Curiosity—somewhere between the size of a golf cart and a small Jeep, and weighs 2,260 pounds.

On February 18, Perseverance landed in Mars’ Jezero Crater. The structure once held an ancient lake, making it a prime location to search for traces of life. If all goes to plan, the rover will spend at least two Earth years exploring the planet, collecting data all the while.

[Related: Read about how the Perseverance rover completed its dramatic landing on Mars]

With 23 cameras and seven scientific instruments, Perseverance will conduct science on Mars with unprecedented complexity. NASA technology has come a long way since we first landed on the planet in 1976—as we look forward to what Perseverance might accomplish, let’s look back on what we’ve already achieved on Mars.

Hannah Seo
Hannah Seo

is a freelance science journalist, podcast writer, and poet based in Brooklyn. In addition to Popular Science, her work can be found in WIRED, Scientific American, The Walrus, and Environmental Health News, among others.