With two separate missions having made it safely to Mars orbit in the last couple of days, excitement is building to see if NASA can make it three in a row for international space efforts aimed at uncovering some of the mysteries of the faraway planet, as well as our own solar system.
The United Arab Emirates became the first Arab nation to reach Mars when its Hope orbiter arrived on Tuesday, February 9. China followed up a day later when its Tianwen-1 spacecraft entered Mars orbit ahead of an attempt to land its rover in a few months’ time. NASA’s Perseverance rover, meanwhile, is expected to arrive at the red planet on Thursday, February 18. And it won’t be hanging around, as on the very same day the spacecraft will attempt the challenging procedure of landing the rover safely on the Martian surface.
The movie-like trailer below features an animation showing the planned autonomous landing, which NASA says will be a “harrowing” seven minutes for Perseverance (as well as for the team waiting for news back on Earth) as the space vehicle faces dramatic speed changes and extreme temperatures in the final moments of descent. Proper deployment of its parachute and jetpack is also crucial to the rover’s successful touchdown.
For an in-depth look at how NASA aims to land Perseverance next week, be sure to check out this Digital Trends article.
On Feb. 18, the @NASAPersevere rover lands on Mars to search for signs of ancient life and to test technologies that will prepare the way for future human exploration of the Red Planet. Here’s how to ride along: https://t.co/my2sbHYtRh #CountdownToMars pic.twitter.com/GuIyyb6Sb1
— NASA Mars (@NASAMars) February 10, 2021
If everything goes to plan, Perseverance will land in Jezero Crater, a 28-mile-wide (45-km-wide) impact basin with an ancient river delta, steep cliffs, sand dunes, boulders, and smaller impact craters.
The main goals of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission include looking for signs of ancient life, gathering rock and soil samples for return to Earth, and collecting data for future human exploration of the planet.
The mission will also see an aircraft fly for the first time on another planet when NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter, which is traveling with Perseverance, takes off from the surface of Mars for its maiden flight.
In the coming days, while you’re waiting for Perseverance to enter that all-important seven-minute phase that will make or break the multi-billion-dollar mission, why not hit this awesome simulator for an overview of what it’s going to take to successfully land the rover on the Martian surface.
- Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy nails the superhero team dynamic
- SpaceX crewmember has colorful response to first view of Earth
- Spacewalk time-lapse reveals the fiddly work of an astronaut
- The best sci-fi movies on Amazon Prime Video right now
- Astronaut shows off views from ISS module after Crew Dragon success