At 3:55pm EST on February 18th, NASA will commence its 9th Mars landing operation in an attempt to drop the 5th mars rover onto the Red Planet. Agency media channels will be flooded in the days leading up to the descent with interviews and special virtual content for space lovers all about Perseverance and its mission.
Live commentary on the day of will begin at about 2:15pm EST on the NASA Web TV site, NASA app, and agency YouTube channel.
Perseverance, which launched July 30, 2020, will land in the Jazero Crater on Mars and search for signs of ancient microbial life, collect carefully selected rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) samples for future return to Earth, characterize Mars’ geology and climate, and pave the way for human exploration beyond the Moon.
The Curiosity Rover is already on Mars, having slowly spent 3,000 Martian days climbing a mountain while studying the local geology.
An extremely exciting landing, the Perseverance Mission will be the first to include the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which will attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.
An experimental piece of technology, it will deploy from the belly of the rover from its protected compartment under a debris shield which will break away as the rover lands.
Not intended for wide-scale research, Ingenuity is simply there to study how aerial robots fare in the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars. Solar-powered but with a small battery, the copter will only be able to fly short distances.
Assuming it survives the landing, it will power its rotors and achieve sustained hovering for 30 seconds. From then it will conduct a series of maneuvers and tests of gradually increasing intensity over a 30-day period.