ASCEND and NASA Accelerate Excitement for Perseverance Landing on Mars Written 16 February 2021



February 16, 2021 – Reston, Va. – In advance of this week’s scheduled landing of NASA’s Perseverance Rover on Mars, more than 1,500 members of the ASCEND community participated in an exclusive live webinar with mission experts to preview the rover’s precision landing program and the groundbreaking science, technology and engineering innovations it is bringing to the red planet. The webinar was underwritten by United Launch Alliance (ULA). If you missed the live event, watch the replay here.

Perseverance is the largest and most sophisticated rover ever sent to Mars. The robotic astrobiologist carries an array of cutting-edge technologies that will enable the most precise landing ever and help pave the way for future human missions. It will seek signs of ancient life, demonstrate technologies for making oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, provide surface weather updates, and demonstrate the first controlled, powered flight on another planet with the Ingenuity helicopter. Landing on Mars is planned for Thursday, February 18.

Powered by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the world’s largest aerospace technical society, ASCEND stands for Accelerating Space Commerce, Exploration, and New Discovery. Its partnership with NASA on this webinar exemplifies ASCEND’s mission to further purposeful, outcomes-driven conversations about humanity’s off-world future, according to Rob Meyerson, ASCEND executive producer and former president of Blue Origin.

“To get people like you and me to the moon and Mars, we are going to need to work with a broader cross section of people and industries,” said Meyerson. "ASCEND is building the relationships needed to create our off-world future."

Befitting a mission of such scientific and historical magnitude, webinar speakers representing NASA and its partners shared their enthusiasm for Perseverance during their presentations. “We are making the impossible possible and looking toward the future. Hopefully this will help globally all of humanity,” said Wanda Peters, deputy associate administrator for programs, Science Mission Directorate, NASA. Trudy Kortes, director of technology demonstrations, Space Technology Mission Directorate, NASA, added, “Technology drives exploration. We believe that. Mars 2020 and Perseverance see that in action.”

In introducing the webinar, Tory Bruno, president and CEO, Perseverance launch partner ULA, and member of the ASCEND Guiding Coalition, said, “Everything about this mission is amazing. But I think the most exciting thing is that this mission is the best chance we’ve had to discover ancient life on Mars. That will be remembered as one of the great discoveries of all time.”

The ASCEND Guiding Coalition is a cross section of leaders committed to expanding the scope and scale of this community by making space for everyone.

On the Horizon for ASCEND
Building on ASCEND’s successful launch in 2020, the ASCEND team is actively planning this year’s events, including:

  • ASCEND Call for Content, February 25 – March 30 (to be presented at the apex event in November)
  • ASCENDxSummit: Next-Generation Workforce, March 16
  • ASCENDxWorkshop: Maximizing Payload Success, April 21
  • ASCEND (the apex event), November 15–17

Powered by AIAA, ASCEND promotes the technically rigorous, multidisciplinary, outcomes-driven community of students and professionals around the world who are accelerating humanity’s progress toward our off-world future. In 2020, its inaugural year, more than 6,000 people attended ASCEND events. For more information, visit, or follow ASCEND on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

About AIAA
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 91 countries, and 100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit, or follow AIAA on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Rebecca B. Gray,, 804.397.5270 cell