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Mars Touchdown: Perseverance Rover lands on the Red Planet

The latest NASA mission to Mars focuses on a search for ancient signs of life and testing state-of-the-art technology ahead of manned-missions to the Moon.
Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 6:01 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 18, 2021 at 5:58 PM CST
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PASADENA, Calif. (WMTV) - After a nearly 7-month, 293 million-mile journey, NASA’s Rover Perseverance landed on the surface of Mars. Its main mission is to seek out signs of ancient life in the 28-mile wide Jezero Crater. The rover carries the space agency’s most advanced tech - including instruments to scan the planet’s rocks & sediment, a terrain-relative navigation system, and a helicopter. Besides searching for life, Perseverance’s on-board tech will pave the way for future manned-missions to the Moon and Mars.

WHERE TO WATCH

Live & on-Demand video of news briefings as well as the landing itself are available through NASA’s website & their YouTube Channel.

LANDING PROCEDURE TIMELINE

NASA scientists received confirmation that Perseverance landed at approximately 2:55 p.m. CST/3:55 p.m. EST. However, the landing and every milestone listed below took place earlier due to the vast distance between Earth & Mars. Signals take about 11 minutes and 22 seconds to travel from the Rover back to Earth.

MilestoneCSTEST
Cruise Stage Separation2:38 p.m.3:38 p.m.
Atmospheric Entry2:48 p.m.3:48 p.m.
Peak Heating2:49 p.m.3:49 p.m.
Parachute Deployment2:52 p.m.3:52 p.m.
Heat Shield Separation2:52 p.m. (20-sec after parachute deployment)3:52 p.m. (20-sec after parachute deployment)
Back Shell Separation2:54 p.m.3:54 p.m.
Rover Touchdown2:55 p.m.3:55 p.m.

MAIN MISSION: SEARCHING FOR SIGNS OF ANCIENT LIFE

Past missions to Mars discovered evidence of once running water on the Red Planet before it froze over. This time, Perseverance is landing in a 28-mile wide crater in the planet’s northern hemisphere. Scientists believe the Jezero Crater was once home to an ancient river delta and a large lake which could contain traces of microbial life. The Rover will also collect data about Mars’ geology and climate.

SECONDARY MISSION: PAVING THE WAY FOR FUTURE MANNED MISSIONS

Perseverance carries several hi-tech instruments and devices to not only complete its primary mission, but also test out equipment for other planned missions.

Terrain-relative navigation plays a pivotal role in the landing procedure by taking photos & making adjustments upon approach. The technology will be improved upon & adapted for future manned missions to the Moon.

Perseverance also boasts the most self-driving technology ever in a rover -- allowing it to cover more ground with fewer instructions from Earth. This could make exploration of other planets more efficient as well.

The Mars 2020 mission also carries the most cameras ever - 19 are on the rover itself. There’s also a microphone on-board so the public may hear sound on Mars for the very first time.

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