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Perseverance's landing site. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

NASA's Perseverance rover — designed to further the hunt for past life on Mars — successfully touched down on the Red Planet Thursday.

Why it matters: Mars was once a relatively warm, wet and habitable world, and Perseverance — nicknamed Percy — could help NASA figure out if it was inhabited billions of years ago.

What's happening: Perseverance landed in Jezero Crater at the site of what scientists think was once a river delta, thought to be one of the best places to hunt for past life.

  • The rover will now go through a series of checkouts before it begins roaming the planet and searching for interesting rocks to study.
  • Perseverance comes equipped with multiple instruments, including one designed to create oxygen from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which might one day be used by human explorers.

The big picture: Perseverance completes the trio of missions from three different nations that launched to Mars in July and successfully arrived this month.

  • The United Arab Emirates' Hope probe and China's Tianwen-1 mission are both orbiting the planet now. China's spacecraft is expected to release a rover down to the surface in the coming months.

What's next: Perseverance is equipped with sample tubes that it will fill with the most interesting looking rocks for an eventual return to Earth on a future mission, expected to launch in 2026.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Feb 16, 2021 - Science

Breaking down the role nuclear power could play in getting people to Mars

Artist's illustration of a nuclear propulsion system and habitat around Mars. Image: NASA

Nuclear power is a good bet to get people to and from Mars, according to a new report. However, there's still a long way to go before it's viable.

Why it matters: NASA has plans to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s, but the technology needed for such an extreme mission is still in development.

Most teachers are white. Most students aren't.

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The nation's 6.6 million teacher workforce has grown more racially and ethnically diverse over the past three decades — but not nearly fast enough to keep pace with a student population that's nearing majority-minority in public schools, two new reports show.

Why it matters: The disparities are especially acute between Hispanic students and teachers, and in schools with 90% or higher non-white student populations.

Updated 12 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.