NYC's Empire State Building turns red to celebrate NASA's Perseverance rover

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 and photo descriptions on the agency's Flickr stream.

"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
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NASA's Perseverance Mars rover mission

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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. Human Mars exploration will begin no earlier than 2035, 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 (JPL), and you can see a picture of the pylons on the NASA Perseverance Twitter feed. JPL, where rover operations are centered, is located in nearby Pasadena. 

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 (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 showing the otherworldly glow peeking through all the windows.

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 and our news partners for a story or image gallery, send images and comments to

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: