Mars Landing 2021

Anushka Sharma
Feb 18 · 3 min read

Today is the day! The much-aniticpated landing of NASA’s newest rover, Perseverance, and helicopter Ingenuity on the surface of the Red Planet, Mars. After launching from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on the 30th July 2020 today marks the next milestone in the mission. Once on Mars, “Percy” (as many are calling the rover) will search for past and present life and collect soil and rocks for an eventual sample return mission to Earth.

Best of luck to everyone in Mission Control NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and to all my friends and colleagues working across the space/stem ecosystems. Moments like this unite us all and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and spark that interest!

This illustration shows NASA’s Mars 2020 spacecraft carrying the Perseverance rover as it approaches Mars. Image Credit NASA JPL / CALTECH

HOW TO WATCH IN THE UK

Tune in for live coverage and landing commentary from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) beginning at 19:15 GMT on YouTube,

The landing phase begins at approximately 20:47 GMP

Touchdown is scheduled for approximately 20:55 GMT.

7 Nail Biting Minutes

All landings on Mars are difficult, NASA’s Perseverance Rover is attempting to touch down in the most challenging terrain on Mars ever targeted. The intense entry, descent, and landing phase, known as EDL, begins when the spacecraft reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere.

Entry, Descent, Landing — Credit NASA JPL / CALTECH

The intense entry, descent, and landing phase, known as EDL, begins when the spacecraft reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere. Engineers have referred to the time it takes to land on Mars as the “seven minutes of terror.” It is a collective moment in history that as a Brit, I can only describe as a nail-biting, heart-thumping moment!

Mars Perseverance parachute Image — credit NASA

The landing sequence is complex and targeting a location like Jezero Crater on Mars is only possible because of new landing technologies known as Range Trigger and Terrain-Relative Navigation. Check out this vid by @NASAJPL https://youtu.be/M4tdMR5HLtg.

Landing Site — The Jezero Crater

Jezero Crater as Seen by ESA’s Mars Express Orbiter credit ESA/DLR/FU-Berlin

The Jezero Crater was chosen by NASA as the landing site for the Perseverance rover. Scientists believe the area was once flooded with water and was home to an ancient river delta. More than 3.5 billion years ago, river channels spilled over the crater wall and created a lake.

After a 5 year study, and research into 60 potential sites the Jezero Crater was selected by NASA and scientists from around the world.

Background

This mission is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program which is a science-driven, technology-enabled study of Mars as a planetary system in order to understand:

  • the formation and early evolution of Mars as a planet
  • the history of geological and climate processes that have shaped Mars through time
  • the potential for Mars to have hosted life (its “biological potential”)
  • the future exploration of Mars by humans, and
  • how Mars compares to and contrasts with Earth.

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Naaut

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