NASA’s Mars 2020 space mission has seen the Perseverance rover land safely on Mars' Jezero Crater.
We can confirm that this mission and its historic landing have set a number of ground-breaking records.
Perseverance is the largest planetary exploration rover, built for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Perseverance is built to the same basic design as its sibling Curiosity but includes additional scientific equipment and a ride-along experimental helicopter, as well as mechanical upgrades (such as stronger wheels), which make it significantly heavier.
It has a mass of 1,026.4 kg (2,262.8 lb), compared to Curiosity's 900-kg (1,984 lb), making Perseverance the heaviest payload soft-landed on Mars.
The key objective of this mission is for Perseverance to "seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for possible return to Earth".
In the past, Mars had warmer environments (and running water) so could have supported microbial life.
NASA believes that Jezero Crater, which was once home to an ancient lake, is the best place on the planet to find signs of this life.
Perseverance is also there to collect "important data about Mars’ geology and climate".
The process of landing on Mars involved another record-breaking device - the strongest supersonic parachute.
The SR03 parachute, which was built by Airborne Systems (USA) specifically for this mission, withstood a peak load of 67,336 lbf (299.52 kN) at Mach 1.85 during atmospheric testing on 7 September 2018.
Joining Perseverance is a ride-along experimental helicopter, the Ingenuity Mars helicopter, setting a new record for the first aircraft on Mars.
Ingenuity was developed by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
During a test inside of a simulation chamber that accurately reproduced the temperature and air pressure on Mars, an engineering model of Ingenuity was able to take off, hover, move in different directions, and successfully land.
Ingenuity is scheduled to fly on Mars as part of the Perseverance Rover mission.
The coaxial rotorcraft weighs 1.8 kilograms, and relies on very large (1.2m span) blades that spin at 2,400 RPM in order to generate enough thrust to lift off in the Martian atmosphere, which is 1% as dense as Earth's.
Perseverance's mission is scheduled to last for one Mars year (about 687 Earth days).
It will then remain on Mars until it is retrieved by a future mission, with hopes physical samples from Mars can be carried back to Earth by 2031.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech