In a new video posted to NASA's official YouTube channel, a NASA Mars technology expert has answered the following question, "How Did Perseverance Pick its Landing Spot?".
Choosing a landing location for NASA's newest Mars rover is a pivotal choice that had to be made by a selection of people that take into account all of the science goals that the rover is aiming to achieve. The primary goal for Perseverance is to locate evidence of ancient alien life being once present on the Red Planet and relay important data back to Earth about the planet's atmosphere and overall evolution. Taking all of these goals, and many more that aren't outlined here, into consideration, NASA experts selected the Jezero Crater as its landing location due to research at the time indicating that it was once an ancient lake (which was later confirmed).
While the approximate landing location was selected before Perseverance made its way down to the surface, the specific landing location wasn't, and this is where NASA experts took their hands off the wheel and let Perseverance make its own decision. According to NASA Mars Technologist Swati Mohan, Perseverance was equipped with a brand new technology called "Terrain Relative Navigation", which is essentially adding "eyes" to the rover so it could see all of the hazards on the surface as it was descending.
Mohan goes on to say that this technology "allowed Perseverance to thread the needles between all the different hazards of the Jezero Crater in order to land safely".
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