Published: Fri, February 19, 2021

Perseverance rover set to land on Mars

Perseverance rover set to land on Mars

It'd be the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. The first recordings of sound on the red planet. NASA is scheduled to test fly the helicopter, known as Ingenuity, in about a month.

Perseverance is also carrying a small experimental flyer called Ingenuity.

"No Mars landing is guaranteed, but we have been preparing a decade to put this rover's wheels down on the surface of Mars and get to work".

NASA is set to launch its next rover to Mars on July 31, in what is certain to be an exciting new phase in humanity's exploration of the Red Planet.

The planet has always been a death trap for incoming spacecraft, and it took a nail-biting 11 and a half minutes for a signal confirming the successful landing in the Jezero Crater to reach Earth.

Congratulations NASA, and welcome to your new home, Perseverance!

NASA scientists describe Perseverance as the most ambitious of almost 20 U.S. missions to Mars dating back to a 1965 Mariner fly-by. "And there's a reasonable chance that [the rover could] land there", said Willis.

It takes seven minutes for the rover, which enters the Martian atmosphere moving at 12,000 miles per hour, to hurtle down to the surface.

Perseverance carries its own unique payload of scientific instruments compared with Curiosity and will conduct its own investigations of Jezero Crater as it uncovers past and present conditions on Mars.

It won't be an easy landing, though - there are plenty of cliffs and hazards in the way.

"The most hard areas to land in are often the most geologically interesting", said Michelle Nichols, Director of Public Observing at Adler Planetarium in Chicago.

During the landing, "the heat shell comes off and then the parachute gets extended".

The seemingly far-fetched sequence includes a perilous parachute deployment at supersonic speed and a rocket-powered "sky crane" created to detach from the entry capsule, fly to a safe landing spot and lower the rover on tethers, before zipping off to crash a safe distance away.

Adler's live watch party on its YouTube page runs from 2PM-4PM EST.

It's engineered to touch down Thursday afternoon using a supersonic parachute to slow its speed. Nylon cords lowered the rover 25 feet below the descent stage. After the rover touched down on the Martian surface, the cords detached and the descent stage flew away and landed at a safe distance.

Engineers at Nasa's mission control in California erupted with joy when confirmation of touchdown came through.

FMI's instruments are part of a Spanish-led consortium called Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA), a Martian weather station.

Now that the rover has landed, Perseverance's two-year mission will begin. First, it will go through a "checkout" period.

Teams on Earth will go through a month of inspections, software downloads and preparations for roving.

"It is not guaranteed that we will be successful", Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's Science Mission Directorate's associate administrator, acknowledged. The little 4-pound helicopter will have to survive frigid nights on Mars, keep itself warm and charge itself using solar panels.

"We have a series of major milestones between now and the first flight".

"It's full of the stuff that scientists want to see but stuff that I don't want to land on", Al Chen, head of JPL's descent and landing team, told reporters on Wednesday.

That gives the rover a clear science mission: To find signs of ancient microbial life and to prove - if at all possible - that life has existed beyond Earth. What scientists could discover about Mars, though, is worth the journey. Perseverance is much too heavy for lithobraking, so NASA will deploy a tool it last used for Curiosity: A rocket-powered hover crane. For starters, it's not small - at 10 feet long and 7 feet tall, it's very much the size of a small auto.

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