If NASA’s newest mission to Mars with the Perseverance Rover survives the harrowing “Seven Minutes of Terror” to make a successful landing Thursday afternoon, the Mars Curiosity Rover will no longer be the sole active rover on the Red Planet.
Confirmation telemetry for landing at Jezero Crater is scheduled for receipt at approximately 3:55 p.m. EST. The Rover will have been alive or dead for 11 minutes and 22 seconds by then. That is how long it takes the telemetry from Perseverance to reach Earth traveling at the speed of light — 186,000 miles per second.
As stated by NASA:
Jezero is a basin where scientists believe an ancient river flowed into a lake and deposited sediments in a fan shape known as a delta. Scientists think the environment here was likely to have preserved signs of any life that gained a foothold billions of years ago — but Jezero also has steep cliffs, sand dunes, and boulder fields. Landing on Mars is difficult — only about 50% of all previous Mars landing attempts have succeeded — and these geological features make it even more so. The Perseverance team is building on lessons from previous touchdowns and employing new technologies that enable the spacecraft to target its landing site more accurately and avoid hazards autonomously.
The Mars Perseverance Rover is the most sophisticated mission yet sent to the Martian surface, and carries the first ever helicopter (drone) to another planet. At some point, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will attempt a powered flight and will return video and other data.
That will be something to see!
Commentary starts live at 2:15 p.m. EST on NASA TV. WTOP will also be streaming coverage of the Mars landing on WTOP.com, the WTOP app and Facebook. There are other social media outlets and activities you can participate in, too.
This mission has a direct and very personal connection to our area you may not have known about.
Also, Krispy Kreme is offering “Mars Donuts” on Thursday to celebrate NASA’S latest mission to Mars.
With a DMV winter storm very likely keeping us indoors Thursday, tune in and cross your fingers for this epic event. Go Perseverance!