After Saudi Arabia’s Hope probe made its historical landing on Mars, it is time for American space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Perseverance Rover to touch down on the red planet.
Here is everything that you should know before we get to witness the landing:
The Perseverance Rover, that was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on July 30, 2020 will be making its landing on Mars’ Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021. NASA has described that the landing site of its rover is an ancient river delta in a lake that once filled Jezero Crater.
The Perseverance rover is carrying seven instruments to conduct an “unprecedented science and test new technology on the Red Planet,” according to NASA. As it spends one Mars year which is equal to two years on Earth, the rover will search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance NASA’s mission to explore the history of habitability in Mars. The rover has a drill which it will use to collect core samples of Martian rock and soil, then store them in sealed tubes for pickup by a future mission that would take them back to Earth for detailed analysis.
Perseverance will also test technologies to help scientists device better ways for future human exploration of Mars. However, before it gets to do all that, it is the last few minutes of its journey as it approaches its destination that the rover will face ‘seven minutes of terror‘. It is expected that the rover will take seven minutes to descend from the top of the Martian atmosphere to the landing site in less time than the 11-minute-plus radio transmission to Earth.
Perseverance’s self-guided descent depends on its Entry, Descent, and Landing Instrumentation 2 (MEDLI2). MEDLI2 comes with three types of sensors: thermocouples, heat flux sensors, and pressure transducers,which will measure extreme heat and pressure during entry. The rover also contains electronics and hardware for documenting the thermal and pressure loads experienced during entry and through the parachute deployment. A total of 28 sensors are arranged in a unique pattern across the heat shield and back shell of the rover, according to NASA.
NASA‘s Mars rover is also equipped with testing a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere and identifying other resources. The mission will also explore various ways of improving landing techniques, and characterizing weather, dust, and other potential environmental conditions that could affect future manned missions on Mars.