NASA’s Perseverance rover has reached its destination and will attempt to land on Mars today, in what the space agency is calling the most challenging Mars landing ever. Perseverance is expected to touchdown on Mars at 2:55 pm CST, but NASA and others will begin broadcasting coverage of the event as early as 1:00 pm CST.
Perseverance launched from Earth over six months ago, one of three Mars based missions from space agencies around the world that all launched in July 2020. It will be the fifth rover NASA sends to Mars and the first NASA mission to land on the planet since NASA’s InSight Mars lander arrived in 2018.
While searching for life on Mars is Perseverance’s primary objective, the rover will also study the geology and climate of Mars, launch a helicopter named Ingenuity to test controlled flight in the Martian atmosphere, and test out new tech for human missions to the Moon and Mars.
The entire landing event includes entry, descent, and landing phases which is commonly referred to as the seven minutes of terror. This sequence is entirely pre-programmed and engineers can only standby and wait for Perseverance to communicate the landing via satellite.
Perseverance is headed for the Jezero Crater, a 28 mile wide crater that has been identified as having high potential for microbial signs of life. The site features an ancient river delta, boulder fields, steep cliffs, and sand dunes.
NASA is providing coverage of this historic event across its media channels and social media platforms beginning at 1:15 CST. A live feed from NASA JPL of Perseverance landing events, commentary, and activities begins at 1:15 pm CST. This coverage can be viewed at NASA TV, NASA.gov/live and on YouTube.com/NASA. Spanish speakers can watch a Spanish language simulcast on NASA’s Spanish YouTube channel.
Closer to home, Chicago’s Adler Planetarium is hosting a virtual Mars Rover Landing Watch Party, Mars-Di Gras, on their YouTube channel. Programming starts at 1pm CST and will not only include commentary about today’s landing, but past Mars missions and highlight Martian artifacts from the planetarium’s collection.