On February 18, NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars packed with a unique set of scientific tools to look for signs of ancient microbial life.
NASA previously sent four rovers to Mars, but Perseverance is the most technologically advanced Martian robot. Stacked up against its forerunners, it almost seems like something out of science fiction.
Here’s how Perseverance measures up to fictional robots from science fiction.
Disney / Pixar
NASA rover enthusiasts already know about the resemblance between these real-life Martian robots and WALL-E, the small waste-collecting robot from the eponymous 2008 movie.
The two models share physical attributes, but Perseverance can do a lot more than roll around on another world.
NASA / JPL-Caltech
Perseverance will examine Martian rock and dust, pick up samples, and store them for a future return mission.
20th Century Fox
The humanoid robot Gort from the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still could shoot lasers out of his eyes that could vaporize any physical object.
Similarly, Perseverance is packed with a laser that zaps at Martian rocks at a distance of about 20 feet to vaporize it into a hot gas called plasma in order to study its composition.
Although the beloved droid R2-D2 from Star Wars can’t speak, it finds a way to communicate through electronic beeps sent through an interpreter droid or computer.
Disney / Lucasfilm
Perseverance communicates with ground control engineers through a global network of antennas known as the Deep Space Network to receive commands and send back signals.
Aside from its cool gadgets, Perseverance is the first Martian rover tasked with finding direct evidence of ancient microorganisms that may have existed on Mars billions of years ago when the planet may have been habitable.
If it does find signs of ancient life, it would be the first direct evidence of aliens, brining about a whole other genre of science fiction.