Weather Blog: NASA’s Perseverance Rover Landing On Mars Thursday Afternoon!

Weather Blog

NASA's Rover Perseverance Scheduled To Land On Mars Thursday, February 18!

What Is Perseverance?

On Thursday, NASA will be landing its latest rover, Perseverance, on Mars.

Video provided by Associated Press (AP). Source: NASA & U.S. Department of Energy

The rover is scheduled to land at Jezero Crater, an ancient river delta thought to once be the site of a lake on Mars.

This image made available by NASA depicts a possible area through which the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover could traverse across Jezero Crater. This mosaic is composed of aligned images from the Context Camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS via AP)

Surrounded by cliffs and with an inflow and outflow channel for water, scientists hope Jezero Crater will help lead to questions regarding ancient life on the red planet.

Perseverance will gather samples by drilling into the rocks. However, the samples will not for return to Earth for about 10 years from now.

FILE – This July 23, 2019 photo made available by NASA shows the head of the Mars rover Perseverance’s remote sensing mast which contains the SuperCam instrument in the large circular opening, two Mastcam-Z imagers in gray boxes, and next to those, the rover’s two navigation cameras, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The robotic vehicle will hunt for rocks containing biological signatures, if they exist. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

Thursday’s landing will make Perseverance the third NASA rover on the red planet. Two other NASA rovers are already on Mars: Curiosity (2012) and InSight (2018).

Perseverance was launched from Earth back in July of last year and will descend onto our neighboring planet by parachute, rocket engines, and sky crane.

In this illustration provided by NASA, the Perseverance rover fires up its descent stage engines as it nears the Martian surface.. This phase of its entry, descent and landing sequence, or EDL, is known as “powered descent.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

Perseverance has a new autopilot tool that will guide the rover’s decent by calculating Perseverance’s distance from the touchdown location.

It will also release a parachute to help reduce the rover’s speed as it makes it decent to the surface.

One of the systems on board will scan the surface of Mars and compare it will maps onboard to find a safe landing spot.

This illustration provided by NASA shows the Perseverance rover, bottom, landing on Mars. Hundreds of critical events must execute perfectly and exactly on time for the rover to land safely on Feb. 18, 2021. Entry, Descent, and Landing, or “EDL,” begins when the spacecraft reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere, traveling nearly 12,500 mph (20,000 kph). EDL ends about seven minutes after atmospheric entry, with Perseverance stationary on the Martian surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

Scientists are hoping once Perseverance is on Mars, the rover will help answer questions regarding whether or not life once existed on the planet.

To do this, Perseverance will use lasers to analyze rocks and the vapor emitted by them and drill into the ones determined to be have the best chance of showing signs of life.

The samples will be placed in tubes made of titanium, which will be picked up in a future mission.

FILE – In this Dec. 17, 2019 photo made available by NASA, engineers watch the first driving test for the Mars 2020 rover, later named “Perseverance,” in a clean room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. (J. Krohn/NASA via AP)

If everything goes according to plan, NASA (along with the European Space Agency) will send another rover and return rocket to Mars in 2026 to retrieve Perseverance’s samples.

NASA expected the samples to return to Earth as early as 2031.

Perseverance’s Landing Schedule!

Join us Thursday afternoon on Facebook Live to watch this historic landing on Chief Meteorologist Dan Skoff’s Facebook page (here is a link)!

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