Welcome to the Red Planet
On 30 July 2020 NASA launched the Mars 2020 mission, sending the Perseverance rover into space aboard an Atlas V rocket. (Don’t worry, you’re still allowed to be proud of perfecting your sourdough recipe during lockdown).
While there was much fanfare at the time, attention waned in the following months as the world’s focus turned from the sky towards more pressing earthly events. From August 2020 through to January 2021, Perseverance (nicknamed Percy), was mentioned just 34k times online.
But as the big day when the rover would touchdown drew closer, people’s interest increased. In the week before touchdown day, 3.5k people were posting about the Mars 2020 mission every day, and that excitement only continued to build.
On February 18 2020, at 20:55 UTC, NASA received confirmation, after its six month voyage, that Percy had landed safely and would soon be roaming about the surface of Mars. A gigantic success, and the culmination of years of work and preparation, the landing was a truly historic moment.
Since yesterday, 1.6 million people have posted about the event online. Here’s how the conversation went, minute-by-minute, as Perseverance touched down.