NASA is expected to land its Perseverance rover on Mars this Thursday, as part of one of the agency’s most ambitious deep space missions to search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet
Perseverance launched from the coast of Florida last July, and after a seven-month trip through the cosmos, is expected to land on Jezero de Mars crater at 3:55 p.m.m ET Thursday
The rover’s entry, descent and landing on Mars will be streamed live on the NASA website and YouTube channel, with coverage starting at 2:15 p.m.m ET Special programming in Spanish – a NASA first for a planetary landing – will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET
It takes a little over 11 minutes for signals to travel from Mars to Earth, so “live” coverage will be delayed The riskiest part of the mission, when the rover begins its entry into Mars ( dubbed the “seven minutes of terror”, according to NASA engineers), should begin around 3:38 amm AND
The complexity of deep space communications could delay when mission controllers on Earth confirm parts of the Perseverance landing, NASA said, but also noted that the rover has the ability to land in safe without communication with Earth using autonomous, pre-programmed landing instructions Additional communications, expected in the hours and days following the landing event, are expected to provide more details on how the rover performed
“Mars is difficult and we never take success for granted,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Directorate of Science Missions, told a press conference on Tuesday
Zurbuchen added that they will land on Mars “with cameras on, so the whole world can take inspiration from us as we do new and difficult things and demonstrate these new technologies”
“Because whether it’s on the Red Planet or here at home on our blue marble, science can bring us together and create solutions to challenges that seem impossible at first,” Zurbuchen said
Thursday’s landing is the culmination of more than a decade of work, but there is still no guarantee that the landing will go smoothly – only about 50% of all landing attempts previous studies on Mars have been successful, according to NASA
Zurbuchen said in a statement that Peseverance “is scientifically focused on discovering the existence of life on Mars in the past”
“To answer that question, the landing team will have their hands full to lead us to Jezero Crater – the most difficult Martian terrain ever targeted for a landing,” he added.
Jezero Crater is the site where an ancient river flowed into a lake on Mars, scientists say, and where signs of ancient life could have been best preserved
“The Perseverance team is putting the finishing touches on the intricate choreography required to land in Jezero Crater,” Jennifer Trosper, deputy project leader for the mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement “No landing on Mars is guaranteed, but we have been preparing for a decade to put the wheels of this rover on the surface of Mars and get to work”
The rover is also equipped with new technology that allows it to target its landing site with greater precision and to avoid dangers independently, according to NASA
Perseverance – which was named by a seventh grader who won an essay competition – is the fifth rover NASA has sent to the Red Planet, and the most advanced
The six-wheeled rover is roughly the size of a car, and the mission duration is now set to at least one Martian year, or 687 Earth days
Astrobiology is central to the mission’s objectives, and Perseverance is tasked with looking for signs of ancient microbial life on Mars.It will also collect carefully selected rock and sediment samples with the aim of eventually returning them to Earth.
Additionally, the rover will collect data on the geology and climate of the planet, paving the way for possible human exploration.There is also an experiment called MOXIE that will see if it is possible to make oxygen from methane in the atmosphere of Mars
Perseverance also has a helicopter, dubbed “Ingenuity”, which is expected to become the first aircraft to attempt powered and controlled flight on another planet.
Ebene News – CA – NASA’s Perseverance rover attempts ambitious Mars landing