On July 30, 2020 NASA launched the Mars 2020: Mission Perseverance Rover.
On Thursday, February 18, 2021 NASA you to watch the live landing of the Perseverance rover as she arrives on the “Red Planet”. Touchdown is scheduled for approximately 12:55 p.m. PST (3:55 p.m. EST). Live coverage and landing commentary from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California will begin at 11:15 a.m. PST (2:15 p.m. EST). Scroll down for more details about the mission and landing, and how to watch live on Thursday through several virtual activities and events.
“If there’s one thing we know, it’s that landing on Mars is never easy,” said NASA Associate Administrator for Communications Marc Etkind. “But as NASA’s fifth Mars rover, Perseverance has an extraordinary engineering pedigree and mission team. We are excited to invite the entire world to share this exciting event with us!”
Preview of the Feb 18 Mars 2020 mission landing
About the Mars 2020 mission and landing
Ahead of the landing, you may want to watch the NASA video below if you want an overview of the rover and the mission:
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During landing, the rover will plunge through the thin Martian atmosphere at more than 12,000 mph (about 20,000 kph). A parachute and powered descent will slow the rover down to about 2 mph (3 kph). During what is known as the “sky crane maneuver”, the descent stage will lower the rover on three cables to land softly on six wheels at Jezero Crater.
Among the many firsts on the Mars Perseverance Rover mission is the agency’s first-ever Spanish-language show for a planetary landing at 11:30 a.m. PST (2:30 p.m. EST), NASA will air “Juntos perseveramos,” a show that will give viewers an overview of the mission to Mars and highlight the role Hispanic NASA professionals have had in its success.
Perseverance also is carrying a technology experiment – the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter – that will attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.
Objectives of the Mars 2020 mission
Here are some of the key elements of the Mars 2020: Mission Perseverance Rover:
- Spend at least one Mars year (two Earth years) exploring the landing site region.
- Perseverance is carrying seven instruments in order to explore and gather data and rock samples and help pave the way for future human missions to the Moon and Mars.
- Mars orbiters have been collecting images and data from Jezero Crater from about 200 miles above, but finding signs of ancient life on the surface requires much closer inspection.
- Explore a geologically diverse landing site and look for signs of ancient life, particularly in special rocks known to preserve signs of life over time.
- Gather data to better understand Mars’ past climate conditions and why Earth and Mars are so different, despite some similarities in their very early history.
- Gather rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth by a future NASA mission.
- Demonstrate technology for future robotic and human exploration.
- Perseverance is the first rover to bring a sample caching system to Mars that will package samples for return to Earth by a future mission.
- Rather than pulverizing rock the way Curiosity’s drill does, Perseverance’s drill will cut intact rock cores that are about the size of a piece of chalk and will place them in sample
- Once the samples are returned to Earth, scientists can examine them more precisely with instruments too large and complex to
send to Mars, providing far more information about them than even the most sophisticated rover could.
More info: Mars2020_Fact_Sheet.pdf (nasa.gov)
How to watch the Mars 2020: Mission Perseverance Rover
Live coverage and landing commentary from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California will begin at 11:15 a.m. PST (2:15 p.m. EST).
As with previous Mars missions, the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission plans to make raw and processed images available on the mission’s website. The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission carries more cameras than any interplanetary mission in history–19 cameras on the rover itself and four on other parts of the spacecraft involved in entry, descent, and landing.
If all goes well, the public will be able to experience in high-definition what it’s like to land on Mars – and hear the sounds of landing for the first time with an off-the-shelf microphone.
Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL)
Landing on Mars is hard. Roughly 60% of the missions have failed (not all of them ours!). Entry, Descent, and Landing – often referred to as “EDL” – is the shortest and most intense phase of the Mars 2020 mission, about 7 minutes in all.
It begins when the spacecraft reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere, travelling nearly 12,500 MPH. The trick is to go safely go from that speed down to zero, in that short amount of time, while hitting a narrow target on the surface. It requires “slamming on the brakes” in a very careful, creative and challenging way. But that’s not the half of it.
Since it takes more than 11 minutes to get a radio signal back from Mars, by the time the mission team hears that the spacecraft has entered the Mars atmosphere, in reality, the rover is already on the ground. So, Perseverance is designed to complete the entire EDL process by itself – autonomously.
Passing through the Martian atmosphere, Perseverance slows down but must fire small thrusters to keep itself on course. When it slows to 1,000 MPH, Perseverance calculates the distance to the surface and–at the right moment–deploys a parachute. When it slows to 200 MPH, it cuts the parachute loose and uses rockets to slow down further. Then things get really complicated with landing gear and tossing aside unneeded parts.
Well, the NASA team calls it the “Seven Minutes of Terror.” The EDL for Perseverance will be broadcast live as the rover arrives at Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. Read more details about the EDL here: Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) – NASA Mars
NASA is offering many ways for the public to participate and stay up to date on landing information, mission highlights, and interaction opportunities.
- You can see it all–live coverage and landing commentary–on the NASA TV Public Channel and the agency’s website, as well as the NASA App, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitch, Daily Motion, and THETA.TV.
- Connect with like-minded space enthusiasts, receive a NASA Social badge, ask questions, and take part in other virtual activities by signing up for the Perseverance Rover Virtual NASA Social event.
- NASA also will provide a virtual guest experience for members of the public during landing, with notifications about mission updates, curated mission resources, and a virtual passport stamp available after landing.
- Stay connected and let people know you’re following the mission on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Join the conversation, ask questions, and get answers online by using #CountdownToMars.
If you are among the 10.9 million people who signed up to send your name to Mars, your name is stenciled on one of three silicon chips embedded on a plate on the rover that carries the words “Explore as one” in Morse code. Anyone who missed the chance to send their name on Perseverance can sign up to send their name on a future Mars mission at: https://mars.nasa.gov/participate/send-your-name/mars2020
More info: Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover – NASA Mars
NASA social media
Follow and tag these NASA social media accounts #CountdownToMars:
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