NASA has named the landing site of its Perseverance Mars rover after the science fiction author Octavia Butler. So the location of the rover’s touchdown site is now being called “Octavia E. Butler Landing,” the US space agency said last week.
The rover was launched on July 30 last year from the Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the US state of Florida. It reached Mars on February 18 after a 203-day journey. A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life.
The rover will characterise the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith – broken rock and dust.
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.