Home Life NASA's Mars rover Perseverance set for dramatic landing. Its mission? Find signs...

NASA's Mars rover Perseverance set for dramatic landing. Its mission? Find signs of life.


MELBOURNE, Fla. — Thursday afternoon will mark the moment of truth for Perseverance.

After traveling nearly 300 million miles since its launch from Cape Canaveral in July, NASA’s six-wheeled robotic explorer designed to hunt for signs of life will begin its dramatic Mars descent Thursday afternoon.

Live video will be made possible by NASA during Perseverance’s approach, entry, descent, and landing. The NASA stream was scheduled to begin at 2:15 p.m. EST.

The process includes the “seven minutes of terror,” which from 3:48 until 3:55 p.m. will see some of the mission’s most treacherous moments.

First, the capsule protecting the 10-foot rover will make contact with the Martian atmosphere, keeping thousands of degrees of friction-generated heat at bay. Then, a 70-foot parachute will deploy to slow down the spacecraft before Perseverance drops out of the capsule and begins plummeting toward the surface.

Eight retrorockets secured around the 2,200-pound rover begin firing to slow down even more, eventually brining it to a near-stop about 65 feet above the surface. This “sky crane maneuver” is then brought to an end with nylon cords gently lowering the rover to the surface before disconnecting.

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Landing time, schedule

Though the entry, descent, and landing process won’t be televised in real-time due to the delay in signals reaching Earth, teams at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California will be on-hand to talk about the mission and latest telemetry.

Perseverance should begin transmitting its first photos immediately after landing.

The expected timeline for Thursday’s landing is as follows (all times Eastern):


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