Perseverance, NASA’s most sophisticated rover to date, is expected to land on the surface of Mars on Thursday, February 18. When it reaches Mars, Perseverance will have traveled 292.5 million miles on its journey from Earth. The rover will explore Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient lake that existed 3.9 billion years ago, and search for microfossils in the rocks and soil there. The rover will explore Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient lake that existed 3.9 billion years ago, and search for microfossils in the rocks and soil there. Perseverance is also an experiment to fly a helicopter, called Ingenuity, on another planet for the first time. During the landing coverage, NASA’s mission control team will be able to confirm if the rover safely landed on the surface of Mars.
If successful, Perseverance will be NASA’s ninth landing on Mars. But first, it has to go through the infamous “seven minutes of terror.” The seven minutes it takes for the spacecraft to land on Mars will occur without any help or intervention from NASA teams on Earth because the one-way time it takes for radio signals to travel from Earth to Mars is about 10.5 minutes. The spacecraft hits the top of the Martian atmosphere moving at 12,000 miles per hour and has to slow down to zero miles per hour seven minutes late. The spacecraft’s heat shield will endure peak heating of 2,370 degrees Fahrenheit, 75 seconds after entering the atmosphere.