NASA's rover is on Mars. What happens next is up to Washington.

Source: Politico | February 18, 2021 | Jacqueline Feldscher

The Perseverance rover’s arrival marks a new era of exploration. But it still needs a real commitment in dollars and political will.

NASA engineers flawlessly did their job on Thursday, safely landing a rover on the surface of Mars after a journey of 130 million miles. Now, it’s up to Congress to make sure that big plans for follow-on missions become a reality.

The Perseverance rover, affectionately nicknamed “Percy,” is now in place to collect Martian dust samples that scientists want to bring back to Earth in 2031 to study for signs of life. But the fate of those sample tubes also depends on a daunting journey through politics.

America’s space program has long been plagued by drastic shifts in mission that accompany the inauguration of a new president or the election of new congressional leaders.

But some space leaders on Capitol Hill hope to change that and give the Mars Sample Return Mission a better shot at outliving any one congressional term.

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