NASA’s Perseverance rover is one week away from a daring landing on Mars. Watch how it works.


NASA’s next flagship rover is one week away from landing  on the Red Planet.

On Feb. 18, the Mars rover Perseverance will attempt a daring skycrane landing similar to one aced by its predecessor Curiosity August 2012, and an epic NASA video shows exactly how it’ll be done.

NASA dubbed the Curiosity rover’s landing a harrowing “seven minutes of terror” as it had never been done before. The rover had to nail its entire landing sequence on its own, from atmospheric entry and parachute release to an unprecedented rocket-powered hover maneuver as Curiosity was lowered to the Martian surface, because the sequence happened faster than a signal could reach Earth from Mars.

Perseverance will have much the same approach, but the terror is still there as not every landing mission to Mars has never made it safely to the surface.

Video: Watch how the Mars rover Perseverance will land
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This NASA graphic shows the stages of the Mars rover Perseverance’s daring landing planned for Feb. 18, 2021. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The new 4K Perseverance landing video opens with a shot of Mars, soon followed by Perseverance streaking towards the surface after separating from a protective backshell.

Tucked in special casing, the rover will make its way through the upper part of the atmosphere, streaking across the sky. Close to landing, it is hoped that microphones on board will pick up the whistling of the wind — which is likely why NASA puts that noise in the video, too. 

The protective case will pop a parachute. Closer to landing, the bottom will fall away, with the top remaining clamped to the rover for a final steer to the surface. A dramatic view from the video shows the wheels of Perseverance exposed to the thin Martian atmosphere; moments later, the case backshell fires jets to slow down the landing even further.

In photos: NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover to the Red Planet

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Maneuvering under the jets, the rover will make final adjustments to its landing site before beginning a controlled descent to the surface with a special “sky crane.” Just as the wheels settle to the Martian regolith (soil), the crane will rip away from Perseverance and the shell will crash safely away from the rover, allowing it to get rolling as soon as a routine systems check shows everything is alright.

A last dramatic pan from the video shows Perseverance all on its own on the surface, although the rover will hopefully be in contact with hundreds of scientists and engineers on Earth to plan its first moves.

Launched in July 2020, the Perseverance rover is expected to land on Mars at 3:55 p.m. EST (2055 GMT). Visit Space.com for complete landing day coverage, beginning at 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT). 

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

Source: space.com

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