One of the most challenging parts of putting any rover on the surface of Mars is the approximately seven-minute-long descent from orbit to the surface of the Red Planet. NASA is gearing up for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover to land on Mars about 20 days from now. Currently, Perseverance has about 23.9 million miles left on its 292.5 million mile trip to Mars.
The spacecraft is closing on Mars at a rate of 1.6 miles per second. Once the spacecraft reaches the atmosphere of Mars, its seven-minute descent will begin. The spacecraft will experience extreme heat with temperatures equivalent to the surface of the sun.
It will decelerate rapidly using a parachute that will inflate while the spacecraft is traveling at supersonic speeds. Wrapping up the harrowing landing process will be the first ever autonomous guided landing on Mars. After the landing is successfully completed, Perseverance can prepare to begin studying the surface of Mars.
We mentioned earlier this morning that one of its significant experiments would be deploying the Ingenuity helicopter to see if air travel is possible on Mars. The main reason for Perseverance to cruise the surface of Mars is to search for signs of ancient life and collect samples that will one day be returned to earth for study.
Perseverance was constructed using collective knowledge gained from past missions to Mars. Its operations team hopes that it will expand the knowledge of Mars and solve mysteries about the possibility of ancient life on Mars. Jezero Crater is where Perseverance will be landing, a dry 28-mile basin home to a River Delta and ancient Lake filled with water in the distant past. Perseverance is scheduled to arrive at Mars on February 18.