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Perseverance is about to land on Mars!

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
By Dr. Lisa Will, Resident Astronomer at the Fleet Science Center
 
NASA’s next Mars rover, named Perseverance, will be landing on Mars on February 18, 2021. Launched on July 30, 2020 (another name for the mission Mars 2020), the spacecraft will complete an almost 300-million-mile journey and begin its exploration of Jezero Crater.
 
So, what will Perseverance do during its planned mission? It will spend almost two Earth years (about one Martian year) doing the following:
 
• Continue one of the major objectives of all Mars lander/rover missions: to look for signs of ancient life. In particular, Jezero Crater was targeted as a location with high probability for ancient life. The crater shows geological features indicating water was present there in the past.
 
•  Increase our understanding of the geological past of Mars.
 
•  Collect samples that are planned to be collected by a future mission.
 
•  Utilize the most cameras ever on a single mission to image Mars, including during the descent stage.
 
•  Function as a mobile science lab, with seven scientific instruments and microphones.
 
•  Serve as a helipad for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. This is a technology demonstration, attempting to test-fly a helicopter (more like a drone) on another world for the first time.
 
Before Perseverance can do all that, it must survive “Seven Minutes of Terror” as a combination of a heat shield, a parachute, and a sky crane (similar to the Curiosity mission) to make it through the thin Martian atmosphere, safely to the ground. We wish everyone on this mission the best of luck!
 

 

This illustration depicts the some of the major milestones NASA's Perseverance rover will go through during its 7-minute descent to the Martian surface on Feb. 18, 2021. Hundreds of critical events must execute perfectly and exactly on time for the rover to land safely. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
 
 
Here's how to watch it: 
 
Watch an epic journey unfold on Thursday, Feb. 18 as our Perseverance rover lands on Mars. To reach the surface of the Red Planet, the rover has to survive the harrowing final phase known as Entry, Descent, and Landing. Only then can the rover – the biggest, heaviest, cleanest, and most sophisticated six-wheeled robot ever launched into space – search Jezero Crater for signs of ancient life and collect samples that will eventually be returned to Earth. Tune in to a live video feed of key landing activities and commentary from Mission Control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
 
 
Use the hashtag #CountdownToMars to following the landing experience.
 
Wishing you clear skies!
 
Blog Type: 
Science With the Fleet