Following “seven account of terror” after it alcove Mars’ upper atmosphere, NASA’s Perseverance rover is accepted to land on the apparent of the red planet at 20:55 GMT on February 18. This is abundantly hard to do, with only about 40% of missions succeeding.

As a member of the team that built the European Space Agency’s Rosalind Franklin rover (we made the PanCam, the camera “eyes” of the rover), which will set off for Mars next year, I will be captivation my breath during the landing. There’s so much at stake. Not only could the mission unveil some of Mars’ best-kept secrets, and be a key part of future assay to return a Mars sample back to Earth, it could also have important acquaint for landing Rosalind Franklin.

The appropriately named Perseverance soared into the Florida morning sky on an Atlas V rocket on July 30, 2020, in the midst of a global communicable for Earthlings. This was the start of a nearly 500 million-kilometer journey to the red planet, with the car-sized rover, and a helicopter called Ingenuity, aboard.

Its destination is the Jezero crater – a 45km-wide basin, with an old, dry river delta, cliffs, dunes, and bedrock fields – where it will search for signs of ancient, archaic life on the Martian surface. Of course, it’s not absurd it could find accepted life too if there is any. Perseverance will also aggregate samples that accession mission will retrieve and return to Earth in the late 2020s. This will be the first attack to take off from the apparent of accession planet.

Landing sequence

The reason it is hard to land on Mars is that the atmospheric burden is so low that aircraft move through it at astronomic speeds unless they are slowed down. What’s more, the landing has to be done autonomously, after real-time acquaintance with Earth. The landing arrangement for Perseverance is an improved, more accurately targeted adaptation of the “Skycrane” technique, which safely landed NASA’s Curiosity rover in 2012.

The “seven account of terror” will start at 20:48 GMT when a careful “aeroshell” absolute Perseverance, Ingenuity, and a coast agent called “Skycrane” enters the Mars atmosphere at 19,500 km/h. Just over a minute later, the aeroshell will reach its best outer temperature, 1,300°C, due to abrasion with the upper atmosphere. Luckily, the front of the aeroshell is a careful heat shield.

At 20:52, a 21.5-meter parachute will deploy, and the heat shield will be ejected. Two account later, the back part of the shell will abstracted too. The Skycrane, bottomward at 2.7 km/h and powered by eight throttleable retrorockets, will then lower the rover on 7.6m nylon cords, from about 20m above the ground. When its speed has slowed down to 2.5km/h and the rover touches the surface, the cords will be severed. At 20:55 GMT Perseverance should land while Skycrane flies off into the sunset to a safe distance.