NASA rover successfully lands on Mars

A NASA rover has landed on Mars in an epic quest to bring back rocks that could answer whether life ever existed on the red planet.

The space agency says the six-wheeled Perseverance hurtled through the thin, orange atmosphere and settled onto the surface on Thursday (0755 on Friday morning AEDT) in the mission's riskiest manoeuvre yet. Mars has long been a deathtrap for incoming spacecraft.

Perseverance will collect geological samples that will be brought back to earth in about a decade to be analysed for signs of ancient microscopic life.