New York City's most famous building turned red overnight to celebrate NASA's Perseverance rover landing today (Feb. 18).
The Empire State Building was illuminated from sundown Tuesday (Feb. 16) to early Wednesday morning (Feb. 17), NASA said in a statement (opens in new tab) and photo descriptions on the agency's Flickr stream (opens in new tab).
"A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith," NASA said in the statement.
Related: How to watch NASA's Perseverance rover land on Mars (opens in new tab)
Live updates: NASA's Perseverance Mars rover mission (opens in new tab)
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Perseverance will be a link in NASA's hopes to eventually bring samples of Mars back to Earth, although that future mission depends on funding, political will and ongoing international discussions (the sample-return mission so far includes the European Space Agency).
If all goes to plan, sample return could kick off in the late 2020s (opens in new tab). Human Mars exploration will begin no earlier than 2035 (opens in new tab), according to NASA's long-term plans as of 2019, but the timeline again depends on budget and priorities.
The famed New York City steel structure, which completed construction in 1931, wasn't the only United States building lit up in Mars-themed regalia for Perseverance. The Los Angeles International Airport gateway pylons will glow red through sunrise Friday (Feb. 19), according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (opens in new tab) (JPL), and you can see a picture of the pylons on the NASA Perseverance Twitter feed (opens in new tab). JPL, where rover operations are centered, is located in nearby Pasadena.
They’ve lit up at @flyLAXairport as I come in for a landing – on Mars, that is. I’ll be “wheels down” on the Red Planet in less than 16 hours.Get ready to watch online: https://t.co/ZeUixOuMaV #CountdownToMars pic.twitter.com/GULJgV8JMzFebruary 18, 2021
In Ohio, Terminal Tower in Cleveland also went ruddy in honor of the Red Planet, according to a tweet from the NASA Glenn Research Center (opens in new tab) (Glenn is also based in Cleveland). Chicago's Adler Planetarium will turn red "all week long" in honor of Perseverance, the museum said in a tweet (opens in new tab) showing the otherworldly glow peeking through all the windows.
#CountdownToMars is underway, and cities all over the U.S. are lighting up the night in red to celebrate @NASAPersevere as the rover prepares to land on Mars, the Red Planet, tomorrow, Feb. 18.Find ways to watch, learn and celebrate with us:https://t.co/6nIFeMqW4I#Cleveland pic.twitter.com/rw4Oyr1kj7February 18, 2021
Editor's note: JPL also invited other cities to light up in red to celebrate Perseverance's landing. If you saw this happen near you and want to share with Space.com and our news partners for a story or image gallery, send images and comments to email@example.com (opens in new tab).
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.