NASA's Perseverance Rover Successfully Lands On Mars

CBS4's Chris Martinez reports on the historic mission. Read more:

Video Transcript

- Now at 5:30, NASA makes history once again after its rover named Perseverence landed on Mars.

- It was pretty cool to watch. The mission, if successful, could determine if life ever existed on the red planet. CBS for us Chris Martinez shows us how important this mission really is.

- Touchdown confirmed. Perserverance successfully on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the signs of past life.

CHRIS MARTINEZ: After a nearly 300 million mile trek through the stars, NASA's Perseverance rover is now safely on the surface of Mars. Minutes after it touched down the Rover transmitted its first photo of the Martian surface back to Earth, signaling it's ready to begin its mission.

GREGORY VILLAR: Part of what we're doing is kind of paving the way for human exploration.

CHRIS MARTINEZ: Gregory Villar is part of the team that spent years plotting the riskiest moment of the latest Mars mission, the landing. A seven minute white knuckle event. Mission managers say that landing Thursday afternoon went entirely as planned.

GREGORY VILLAR: This is so exciting. The team is beside themselves. It's so surreal.

CHRIS MARTINEZ: With Perseverance now on Mars, the car sized robotic spacecraft will begin one of its primary jobs. Searching for signs of life. The rover is looking for evidence of long dead microscopic organisms that may have thrived on the planet billions of years ago. To do that Perseverance will drill into the ground collecting Martian rock and dust samples NASA hopes to one day return to Earth.

JENNIFER TROSPER: The Mars sample return project, of course, is probably the most challenging thing we've ever attempted within NASA. We are hoping to learn if life ever existed in the ancient past on Mars.

CHRIS MARTINEZ: The Perseverance mission is also tasked with another first, exploring the planet's surface from the air thanks to a drone helicopter named Ingenuity. With their numerous cameras and sensors, the drone and rover will study the climate and geology of Mars, helping scientists as they plot manned missions to the planet in the years ahead. Chris Martinez, CBS News, Los Angeles.

- NASA's latest trip to Mars is one of the three ongoing missions to the red planet. Both China and the United Arab Emirates also launched spacecrafts to the planet last July.