NASA Rover 'Perseverance' Lands On Mars With MIT Experiment On Board

NASA’s "Perseverance" rover has landed on Mars to search for evidence of life. WBZ-TV's Jacob Wycoff reports.

Video Transcript

- It was historic and just plain awesome, NASA landing the Perseverance rover on Mars. And it has already sent back its first image. Now this is the most sophisticated rover ever.

- We were all applauding too, by the way. Over the course of this mission it will be searching for signs that life once existed on Mars. WBC's Jacob Wycoff joins us in studio. And Jacob, researchers, including researchers at MIT, will be eagerly awaiting this information.

JACOB WYCOFF: Yeah David and Lisa. The latest mission to Mars Perseverance began back in 2020, July 30. So that's nearly seven months of travel turned into seven minutes of silence before anyone knew if perseverance actually landed safely on the red planet.

- Touchdown confirmed, Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars.

JACOB WYCOFF (VOICEOVER): The emotion's evident. From mission control in Pasadena, California, to locally. MIT professor Dr. Jeff Hoffman echoed that excitement.

DR. JEFFREY HOFFMAN : That's when I poured myself a glass of champagne, and, you know, time to celebrate.

JACOB WYCOFF (VOICEOVER): Dr. Hoffman is a former astronaut, making five trips into space in the 80s and 90s. His latest mission, part of the Moxey experiment team from MIT on Perseverance.

DR. JEFFREY HOFFMAN : What we're going to demonstrate is how to make oxygen on the surface of Mars. We're going to need a lot of oxygen for human missions. Not just to breathe but for the rocket that's going to take it back to Earth. Now we want to learn how to produce that on the surface of Mars, and that's what Moxey is going to demonstrate for the first time.

JACOB WYCOFF (VOICEOVER): Findings that could help send an astronaut to Mars in the future.

DR. JEFFREY HOFFMAN : For the early expeditions, the most important use of oxygen is for the rocket to get the astronauts back off the surface of Mars and back to Earth

JACOB WYCOFF (VOICEOVER): The Mars mission traveled almost 300 million miles. So far the signal takes 11 minutes to return to Earth. During the descent into the Martian atmosphere the spacecraft loses contact, dubbed, seven minutes of terror.

JACOB WYCOFF: So take me back to that seven minutes of silence before it reported home. How did that make you feel?

DR. JEFFREY HOFFMAN : I don't tend to worry about those things. I sit back and enjoy the ride.

JACOB WYCOFF (VOICEOVER): Well worth the long wait.

JACOB WYCOFF: Is space still hard?

DR. JEFFREY HOFFMAN : You can't get complacent. You know, there's an incredible number of things that can go wrong. And the history of trying to land things on Mars is, you know, we've got wrecks scattered all over the surface of Mars.

JACOB WYCOFF (VOICEOVER): But not this time around.

JACOB WYCOFF: Also taking a long journey is Ingenuity a first-of-its-kind, four rotor drone that will help in mapping the Martian surface. The first drone mission is slated for the spring, David and Lisa?

- Just absolutely blows my mind.

- Fascinating.

- So cool, Jacob thank you so much.