This week, we got to witness history in space exploration as the Perseverance rover safely landed on the surface of Mars. The rovers main mission is to search for signs that life once existed on the red planet. Being the most sophisticated rover to ever land on Mars, it took many years and a team of dedicated scientists to achieve such an amazing moment in history. As the pictures and data come in from our neighboring planet, it's incredible to think that New Jersey played any role to not only space exploration in general, but also played a part in this specific mission as well. So let's dive into the technical aspects of the Perseverance rover, and the role New Jersey played in helping make this mission possible.

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Before we take a look at how Jersey ties into this mission, let's first check out what makes the Perseverance rover so amazing.

The scientific instruments and tools are just incredible. According to NASA's Perseverance Rover site, some of the primary instruments include state of the art cameras, an ultraviolet spectrometer, its very own weather station and more.

It even has the ability to produce it's own oxygen to help prepare for when humans might one day set foot on Mars. It truly is amazing.

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Let's look at that last point. The rover has the ability to produce it's own oxygen. That instrument, referred to as MOXIE, is what makes this possible. You can check out more of how this instrument works, including a deeper dive into some fun facts and technical specs by clicking here.

The Principal Investigator who's associated with MOXIE is Michael Hecht, a physicist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Here is where New Jersey comes into play. Michael Hecht studied at Princeton University, where he received his bachelor's degree in physics. From there, he received his master's at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his doctorate at Stanford University.

You can learn more about Michael Hecht's educational background, including many more of his contributions to science and space exploration by clicking here.

outer space (Yuriy Mazur, ThinkStock)

So there you have it. One individual's contribution to science resulting in this historic mission, and it began with an educational foundation in physics right here in the Garden State.

It's truly incredible what we can achieve when we put our minds to it. And even more so, how some of our biggest achievements wouldn't be possible if not for the great state of New Jersey.

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