I saw that February 18th 4 pm ET is the one year anniversary for Perseverance to have landed on Mars! And of course, I thought of Reverend Pamela Conrad, pastor of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Glen Burnie, MD. Rev Pan+ is an astrobiologist who formerly worked for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA and later at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. until she went to seminary to become an Episcopal Priest! I thought … I need to ask Rev Pan+ for the Top Ten List of Achievements for Perseverance.
Here is her Top Ten List of Accomplishments for Perseverance
From Rev Pan+, NASA Astrobiologist
I think the theme of the blog should be Perseverance—on Earth and on Mars. Since you help people present their best selves to find their calling in a professional life, you can use the model of what we do to accomplish daunting missions through persevering through some real challenges. When you dare mighty things, they might just happen, but if you don’t, then you’ll never know, right?
The achievements of the Perseverance Rover team are many, so it’s hard to narrow them down to ten! It’s important to remember that it’s not “Percy” that has achieved much during the year we’ve been on Mars, but the huge team of people that prepare the instructions for her activities and analyze the data she sends us. That being said, here is my list:
- Getting to Mars
- The pinpoint landing, right where we wanted to be
- Made an awesome video of the parachute deploying to slow our descent to the surface and also a video looking down at the rover deck with the ground rushing up to meet us.
Perseverance Rover’s Descent and Touchdown on Mars OnBoard Camera Views –
3.28 minutes (Click below to view the video.)
- Successful powered flights by the Ingenuity helicopter, the first such activity on another planet
- Successful commissioning of ALL of the instruments on Perseverance
- Successful coring and caching rock samples with a robot on Mars
- Drive distance record with a rover on Mars
- First recorded sound on another planet
- The operations team survived living on Martian time while living on Earth
- A science and operations team all over the world worked seamlessly together remotely, many of us never having met one another in person, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s amazing what people can do when they work together instead of against each other. Whether we are physically in the same place or together through intention (with the help of the internet and the deep space network), We pesky humans have the potential to accomplish a lot when we dare might things together!
Last thought … and by the way, while it’s been a year for us humans on Earth, the Mars year is 600 sols long (a “sol” is a martian day), so it’s only been a bit over half a year for Perseverance. Hard to wrap our heads around that.
Pamela Conrad is an Episcopal priest and rector of St. Alban’s Parish in Glen Burnie. She serves as the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, a group charged with working on dismantling systemic racism where it exists within the diocese. But wait … there’s more! She is also an astrobiologist and planetary scientist specializing in understanding how planets do or do not evolve into habitable environments, and she is presently involved in the exploration of Mars with the Perseverance Rover. She has explored extreme environments all over the Earth including in the high arctic, Antarctica, Death Valley, and the deep sea hydrothermal vents of the Pacific sea floor, to name a few.
Conrad also serves as the Warden for the North American Province of The Society of Ordained Scientists, an international contemplative order that supports the ministry of ordained scientists. As both an Episcopal priest and a scientist, Conrad offers a unique perspective on exploration, and she is dedicated to encouraging people to engage both critical thinking and faith to explore all of the wonders of both the material and the spiritual universe.