NASA’s rover named Perseverance will land on Mars later this evening (1 August 2012). Perseverance will be joining the rover Opportunity on the Martian surface, and NASA encourages everyone to watch the event live via the space agency’s website or Perseverance’s Facebook page. The event will also be streamed live via YouTube. (The embedded video below shows all of NASA’s previous successful rover landings since 1997.) To find out when Perseverance will land on Mars, you can use this countdown clock from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
About the Curiosity Mission
The Curiosity mission is a robotic spacecraft that is being used to study the geology and climate of Mars. The spacecraft was launched from Earth in 2011 and will land on Mars in 2012. The Curiosity rover will be the first ever rover to land on Mars and will be operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The rover will explore the surface of Mars with its suite of instruments, while sending back images and other data for analysis by scientists.
One instrument aboard Curiosity has attracted attention because it is set to drill into Martian rocks near the landing site. Scientists want to know if there are organic molecules present in these rocks that could point to possible signs of life on Mars.
Why is it Important?
After a seven-month journey, NASA’s Perseverance rover is set to land on Mars Thursday. The spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on July 30 and will touch down at Jezero Crater — an ancient river delta — at 3:55 p.m. ET. When it does, the rover will carry out its two-year mission of exploring whether the planet could have once supported life in the form of microbes. It also carries experiments designed to test how well materials used in spacesuits resist the Martian environment and what minerals might be present there.
The Basics of Landing an Unmanned Spacecraft on Mars
In just a few days, NASA’s Perseverance rover is set to land on Mars. The landing will be an impressive feat of engineering, as the spacecraft must slow down from over 12,000 mph to a complete stop in just seven minutes. Here’s a basic rundown of how it will happen -The spacecraft enters Mars’ atmosphere at about 5 miles per second (12,000 mph). -A parachute slows the craft down to about 180 feet per second (360 km/h) and then retrorockets kick in for another deceleration phase. -There are seven minutes of free fall before impact and firing eight retro rockets that are used only during descent.
When Will it Happen?
The rover is set to land on Mars at 3:55 p.m. EST on Thursday, February 18 (12:55 a.m. PST on Friday, February 19). The entire landing sequence will take about seven minutes to complete. One of the first steps in the process will be for the spacecraft and its heat shield to enter the Martian atmosphere, traveling at over 13,000 miles per hour. Then, during what NASA describes as seven minutes of terror, all that engineering and technology must work perfectly so that Curiosity can make a soft landing in Gale Crater.
How Can I Watch it Happen?
The rover is set to land on Mars at 3:55 p.m. EST on Thursday, February 18 (12:55 a.m. Friday, February 19 GMT). You can watch it happen live on NASA TV or the agency’s website. It will also be streamed live via YouTube and Ustream. If you miss it, there will be rebroadcasts available for later viewing as well.
What Can We Expect to Learn From the Rover?
The Perseverance rover is scheduled to land on Mars on Thursday, and we here at NASA couldn’t be more excited. This rover is equipped with some cutting-edge technology that will help us learn more about the Red Planet than ever before. When it lands, it will use a combination of parachutes and retrorockets to slow its descent onto the surface. Once it has landed, it will take images of its surroundings using a high-definition camera, measure atmospheric conditions using sensors, and detect whether or not there are any chemical signs of life nearby using an instrument called a mass spectrometer. We’re looking forward to seeing what this little guy can do!
Supporting the Mission
As the Perseverance rover nears Mars, excitement is building here on Earth. The rover is set to land on the Red Planet tomorrow, February 18th, and you can watch the historic event live. You can view a livestream of the landing at NASA’s website starting at 4pm EST (9pm UTC). If that isn’t convenient for you, NASA will have their own Mars Cam streaming as well.