The countdown has begun at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the landing of Mars 2020 Perseverance mission, which is orbiting Mars and set to land its rover Perseverance tomorrow, Feb. 18, 2021, while China's Tianwen-1 mission is likely to follow a similar feat two months later.
Engineers at Jet Propulsion Lab have confirmed that the mission is on target to touch down at the designated Jezero Crater on Mars surface at around 3.55 p.m. EST tomorrow. It is NASA's fifth Mars rover and, will be the US space agency's ninth Mars landing. Perseverance is carrying along the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which will attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.
"Perseverance is NASA's most ambitious Mars rover mission yet, focused scientifically on finding out whether there was ever any life on Mars in the past," said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator at NASA. "To answer this question, the landing team will have its hands full getting us to Jezero Crater - the most challenging Martian terrain ever targeted for a landing."
Why Jezero Crater
Jezero is a basin identified by NASA scientists where they believe an ancient river flowed into a lake and deposited sediments in a fan shape known as delta. Hoping that the environment would have preserved signs of early life billions of years ago, scientists have zeroed in on this crater for landing the Mars rover Perserance.
Though NASA has successfully landed rovers on Mars in the past, it remains a gigantic task everytime since about 50 per cent of all previous attempts at landing on Mars have failed, owing to harsh geological features.
Described as "Seven minutes of terror", the Perseverance team is employing new technologies to enable soft landing accurately and avoid hazards. "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," said Jennifer Trosper, Deputy Project Manager for the mission at JPL.
Perseverance Landing Schedule
Feb. 17, Wednesday
12:30 p.m.—Countdown to Mars Perseverance Rover landing livestream Q&A for elementary school students
Feb. 18, Thursday
12:30 p.m.—Perseverance Mars Rover landing day livestream
2:15 p.m.—NASA will provide multiple feeds of live landing coverage of the Perseverance Mars Rover, leading up to the rover's landing at approximately 3:55 p.m. EST.
- NASA TV coverage, with mission commentary, will be available on this page
- A 360-degree view inside mission control will be available on JPL's YouTube channel
5:30 p.m. -- Perseverance Mars Rover post-landing coverage
Feb. 19, Friday
1 p.m. – Perseverance Mars Rover post-landing briefing
Feb. 22, Monday
2 p.m.—Perseverance Mars Rover briefing