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Check out this interactive simulator for upcoming Mars rover landing

NASA’s Perseverance rover is less than three weeks away from touching down on Mars, as it nears the end of an almost 300-million-mile journey that started in July 2020.

To give space fans the chance to learn more about the final moments of the rover’s epic trip, NASA has released this awesome interactive simulator showing Perseverance’s planned entry, descent, and landing stages, expected to take place on February 18.

Get ready to ride! Try out our 3D, interactive simulation that lets you experience each step of @NASAPersevere’s Feb. 18 Mars landing from every angle:

— NASA Mars (@NASAMars) January 18, 2021

The simulator’s controls let you move the camera around the lander to change the perspective, and you can also zoom in and out for a better view. You can watch the animation in real time, or speed it up and slow it down — or even send it into reverse. Accessing the different stages of the mission’s closing moments is as simple as scrolling down the page.

NASA recommends a fast broadband connection and decent hardware running the latest software to ensure the simulator, which works for mobile and desktop, runs smoothly.

The space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is overseeing the mission, says the rover’s entry, descent, and landing phase will be a “harrowing” experience for Perseverance, as well as for the team back on Earth as it waits for news of a successful touchdown.

A lot of effort has clearly gone into the simulator for this highly anticipated Mars 2020 mission, the main goals of which are to search for signs of ancient life on the distant planet and to gather data for future human exploration.

The mission will also see the first-ever flight of an aircraft on another planet when NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter, which is traveling with Perseverance, takes off from the Martian surface for its maiden flight.

For more details on exactly how NASA’s most advanced rover to date will land on Mars, check out this recent Digital Trends article offering an overview of the event. It also includes movie-style footage showing how NASA hopes those crucial final moments will play out.

NASA isn’t the only space agency with kit on its way to Mars at this very moment. Missions from China and the United Arab Emirates also scheduled to reach the planet in February.

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