Tomorrow, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will attempt a feat that is terrifying and impressive in similar measures: the landing of a rover on Mars. The Fortitude Rover has been traveling to Mars since last summer, with its helicopter Psyde Ingenuity.
Now, it is scheduled to arrive on the Red Planet on Thursday, February 18, and execute an extremely challenging landing maneuver that will allow it to touch safely and begin searching for signs of ancient life.
How to see landing
The Rover is scheduled to land on Mars at approximately 3:55 pm ET / 12: 55 pm PT on Thursday, February 18. NASA will be livestreaming the event, including mission commentary on its TV channel, NASA TV. Its website starts at 2 pm / 11 pm PT.
You can tune using embedded video at the top of this page.
If you prefer to see what the engineers are doing themselves during the landing, the mission control of the Jet Propulsion Lab will also provide a clean feed of the cameras, with mission audio instead of commentary only. You can tune into that feed through JPL’s Raw YouTube channel, or watch a mix of mission control and landing commentary on JPL’s main YouTube channel.
What to expect from landing
Perseverance is approaching its seven-minute panic, which would require the Rover’s spacecraft to slow down to a comfortable landing speed from 12,000 mph using a combination of parachutes, a descent stage with the engine down. Pointed, and the rover is being lowered to the surface. On cables.
One of the (many) challenges of this maneuver is a communication delay of up to 20 minutes on Mars, meaning that engineers cannot directly control the landing – they have programmed the craft to make the landing and only wait to see. Can and see if it is successful.
Nearly half of all Mars expeditions fail, and landing is always a nail biting event. But the NASA team may have some confidence, as both the rover and landing process are similar to the Curiosity rover, which successfully landed on Mars in 2012. Everyone is expecting a repetition of another smooth landing.
“If there’s one thing we know, it’s never that easy to land on Mars,” said Mark Atkind, NASA’s associate administrator for communications. “But as NASA’s fifth Mars rover, Perseverance has an exceptional engineering pedigree and mission team. We are excited to invite the whole world to share this exciting event with us! “
In the days following the landing, on Friday, February 19 and Monday, February 22, updates will be made at 1 pm ET and 2 pm ET, respectively, on the health and condition of the rover.