Perseverance, the NASA Mars rover that launched on July 30, 2020, is set to land on the red planet Thursday afternoon.
The rover will touchdown on Mars around 3:55 p.m. ET Thursday. The landing can be viewed on NASA.gov.
Attached to Perseverance, NASA is also sending the Ingenuity helicopter, which will serve as a drone of sorts exploring the surface of Mars.
NASA said that Ingenuity will be the first aircraft to attempt controlled flight on another planet.
Due to Mars being located 200 million kilometers from Earth, it will take more than 11 minutes for the images to beam from Mars to Earth.
The craft is set to enter the Martian atmosphere at 12,000 mph, but a series of parachutes will slow the craft to 2 mph. Then, what is known as the sky crane maneuver, the descent stage will lower the rover on three cables to land softly on six wheels, NASA said.
“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!”
The rover will land on Jerezo Crater, which was targeted due to a high likelihood of past life. It is believed that Jerezo Crater contained rivers of liquid water in Mars’ ancient past.
Perseverance will be tasked with examining rocks that are up to 3.6 billion years old.
What is also unique about Perseverance is that it is set to be the first rover to collect a sample to return to Earth.
Here are some facts about the Perseverance:
- It is about size of a car; it’s about 10 feet long, 9 feet tall and 7 feet tall
- It weight 2,260 pounds
- The rover has 19 cameras
- The rover will have traveled 293 million miles by the time it lands on Mars
- It is scheduled for a one-year mission
- As the craft enters the Martian atmosphere, it will encounter temperatures of 2,370 degrees Fahrenheit