AN Essex firm has played a pivotal role in Nasa’s Mars Perseverance rover which has safely landed on the red planet.

Its mission is to search for signs of ancient life, and explore and collect samples for future return to Earth from diverse environments on Mars.

After the rover, which blasted off from Earth last July, entered the Martian atmosphere there were “seven minutes of terror” as it made its way to the surface.

It took more than 11 minutes for news of the safe landing to reach Earth, arriving at just before 9pm.

Firm Teledyne e2v, which is based in Chelmsford, helped make the mission possible.

It provided image sensors to drive two of the instruments onboard Perseverance.

They are known as SuperCam and SHERLOC and will help the rover in its search for organic compounds and minerals.

Perseverance will spend the coming years scouring for signs of ancient microbial life in a mission that will bring back samples from Mars to Earth.

Teledyne’s sensors have previously been used in the ChemCam instrument on-board NASA’s Curiosity rover.

Dr Miles Adcock, president space and quantum at Teledyne e2v said: "Teledyne e2v has somewhat of a long and very proud tradition in supplying imaging technology for Mars missions, for both orbital and rover type vehicles and are also providing sensors for the Rosalind Franklin rover too.

"Our Essex based team work tirelessly to develop the technology to meet the demanding performance requirements for missions such as going to Mars and on behalf of everyone I wish the mission every success."

Perseverance’s twitter account also marked its arrival on the red planet, tweeting that it had landed safely, and posting pictures from the rover of it’s “forever home”.

Perseverance carries the Ingenuity helicopter, light enough to fly in Mars thin atmosphere. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Perseverance carries the Ingenuity helicopter, light enough to fly in Mars' thin atmosphere. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Steve Jurczyk, Nasa’s acting administrator, said: “It’s amazing to have Perseverance join Curiosity on Mars and what a credit to the team.

“Just what an amazing team to work through all the adversity and all the challenges that go with landing a rover on Mars, plus the challenges of Covid.

“And just an amazing accomplishment.”