Papal astronomer weighs in on Perseverance

Papal astronomer weighs in on Perseverance Members of Nasa’s Perseverance rover team react in mission control in Pasadena, California, February 18, after receiving confirmation the spacecraft successfully touched down on Mars.

The latest Nasa rover to touchdown on Mars has been hailed as inspiration for future explorers, a Church astronomer has said.

Own path in life

Jesuit Brother Robert Macke said that events like this were what inspired his own path in life. With degrees in physics, philosophy and theology, Br Macke said that he hopes the new discoveries the ‘Perseverance’ rover offers will inspire future explorers.

Nasa’s latest rover touched down on the surface of the Red Planet last Thursday and has already begun sending back pictures and audio for the scientists of the world to explore and analyse.

The curator of the Vatican’s meteorite collection, Br Macke is excited by the prospect of the discoveries Perseverance can offer.

“Maybe in the past, maybe back when Mars was wetter, when the atmosphere was thicker, perhaps back then maybe it might have supported life. And so that’s what we want to look for,” he told Catholic News Service.

The search for life

“The more we know about Mars, the more we can direct our focus in the search for life,” he said, adding, “Mars is the nearest and easiest and biggest laboratory for us to search for life.”

Brother Macke revealed in the same interview that the Vatican’s meteorite collection has half a dozen specimens from Mars, some of which have been held by Popes Benedict XVI and Francis.