What Is Perseverance?
On Thursday, NASA will be landing its latest rover, Perseverance, on Mars.
The rover is scheduled to land at Jezero Crater, an ancient river delta thought to once be the site of a lake on Mars.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)!