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Perseverance's mission to Mars and the Michigan connection

Posted at 6:38 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 19:46:32-04

(WXYZ) — NASA's incredible Perseverance mission to Mars has a Michigan connection and we're examining it during tonight's 7 UpFront report.

The rover touched down on the red planet just a few weeks ago, giving us stunning images the likes of which we've never seen before.

University of Michigan Professor of Aerospace Engineering Jesse Capecelatro is joining us to talk about it.

"So this has been a very exciting time. And, I guess for context, I joined the University of Michigan in 2016," Capecelatro said. "And that's when we started working on this project. So I've been working with folks directly involved with that landing, but the work we're doing is specifically targeted to all the future missions coming up. So that's sample return, and crude missions eventually sending people to Mars. But what we're very interested in is all the data coming out from Perseverance."

Capecelatro adds that the mission itself is incredible because of the search for signs of extraterrestrial life. But more specifically, for the work he and his team are involved in; they're particularly interested in the few seconds just before landing because that's challenging. When it comes to future missions, they have not yet figured out how to safely land on Mars.

"So what's been most exciting to me is just seeing the video of the sky crane maneuver, of the soil being injected – because this is all useful data for what we're doing," Capecelatro said. "So just being able to have a glimpse of what it looks like during the landing is incredible. We've never had that footage before."

Watch the full interview in the player above.