KATHMANDU, FEBRUARY 18
NASA's sophisticated Perseverance rover is attempting the most dangerous and precise landing on a mission to search for signs of ancient life in the Red planet on Thursday.
The Perseverance rover is the agency's fifth rover and the mission it's ninth on Mars. The name of the rover – Perseverance – itself suggests the passion for the mission it has accumulated.
According to the post made by NASA on Feb 16, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California have shared that the spacecraft is healthy and on target to touch down in Jezero Crater at around 3:55 pm EST on February 18, 2021 (5:40 am local time, February 19, in Kathmandu).
The scientists believe that Jezero is where an ancient river flowed into a lake and deposited sediments in a fan shape structure known as a delta. They believe that the environment in this basin could have preserved signs of any life that gained a foothold billions of years ago.
However, the area has steep cliffs, sand dunes, and boulder fields, making the landing difficult. In past, only about 50 percent of all previous Mars landing attempts have succeeded.
This is why the Perseverance is sophisticated as it is built on lessons from previous touchdowns and employing new technologies that enable a successful landing.
NASA showed through animation how the landing will look like in its old tweet.
On Feb. 18, the @NASAPersevere rover lands on Mars to search for signs of ancient life and to test technologies that will prepare the way for future human exploration of the Red Planet. Here's how to ride along: https://t.co/my2sbHYtRh #CountdownToMars pic.twitter.com/GuIyyb6Sb1- NASA Mars (@NASAMars) February 10, 2021
NASA goes live showing Perseverance's entry, descent, and landing (EDL) – the riskiest portion of the rover's mission that some engineers call the "seven minutes of terror" – on NASA TV.
The first thing Perseverance will do is take pictures of the planet and transmit them back to Earth. Afterwards, engineers will check on the health of the rover and deploy the remote sensing mast (otherwise known as its "head") so it can take more pictures.
The Perseverance team will then take more than a month to thoroughly inspect the rover and load new flight software to prepare for its search for ancient life on Mars. During the same period, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter team will be making sure their small but mighty robot is prepared for the first attempt at controlled, powered aerodynamic flight on another planet.
NASA shares that other than searching for signs of ancient microbial life, the rover will characterise the planet's geology and past climate, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. This will be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and sediment for later return to Earth.
According to Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, every 26 months a launch window opens between Earth and Mars, enabling a probe to arrive using minimal fuel, allowing heavier payloads, hence, anybody going to Mars will leave and arrive at about the same time. In this current window, the UAE, China, and USA have sent probes to Mars. Last week, UAE's HOPE probe and China's Tianwen-1 entered the orbit of Mars and intend to land soon.
It is said that the subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.