After a seven-month journey, NASA's Perseverance rover prepares to touch down on Mars on Thursday after first negotiating a risky landing procedure that will mark the start of its multi-year search for signs of ancient microbial life. "We know Mars had water at one point, we know that it was habitable, it could have had life at one point. That's why we're going back and looking for it," Perseverance deputy project manager, Jennifer Trosper, tells AFPTV.
JENNIFER TROSPER: This mission is about collecting samples for future return to Earth. Searching for samples that may have a high potential for ancient signs of life, putting them in sample tubes, and then catching them on the surface so that a future vehicle-- or maybe us-- but a future vehicle-- well, Rover-- will come and get them and take them to another ascent vehicle that will bring them back to Earth.
Mars is the most-- was the most Earth-like planet in the solar system. And now it is no longer like that. We know Mars had water at one point. We know that it was habitable. It could have had life at one point. That's why we're going back and looking for it. And there isn't any other place we know of that's like that. So it's very interesting. We will learn a lot of things.
We've never been able to get back from Mars. So the next step that we're building off of this mission is to bring these samples back. If you can bring samples back, eventually you work towards the technologies to bring humans back. And that's a huge step for the Mars program. And I'm very excited about that.