Next Mars rover landing final 100-day countdown begins

We're now less than 100 days from the landing of the next NASA-made Mars rover. The remote control vehicle with sample-collecting abilities is called Mars 2020 Perseverance. The mission originally launched from our planet Earth back on July 30, 2020, and it'll land on February 18, 2021. Let's take a peek at what this new rover can do – and what it set out to do in the first place.

Perseverance is set to explore Jezero's interior to seek out signs of (long since dead) life on Mars. The Jezero Crater is ideal for this search as it contained at least two major water landmarks in the distant, distant past. Signs of both a lake and a river delta were discovered in the Jezero Crater – with enough potential for big-news greatness that NASA's sent a $2.7 billion dollar mission to explore it.

Perseverance is stacked with an array of instruments that'll aid in missions NASA will run in the future, as well. As noted by, the MOXIE tool will generate oxygen on Mars – or it'll try to do so, anyway. The idea with MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) is testing the potential for terraforming the planet – making it ready for human exploration and, in the very distant future, long-term stays.

As we explored in early October, this rover also has a tool called RIMFAX. This is the Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Experiment, aimed at revealing hidden layers of geology below the surface – at least 30 feet below the surface.

This RIMFAX tool will allow NASA to get a 2D reading of the layers below the surface. It'll also (hopefully) be processed into data that'll allow NASA to create a 3D model of Mars' subsurface.

Mars 2020 Perseverance is scheduled to land on February 18, 2021. NASA's aimed the mission landing for the Jezero Crater on Mars, where its mission can begin in full effect for the next several seasons. Six months of travel was enough!

If you'd like to watch Perseverance's trip to Mars, you can do so! As we saw back in August, there's a NASA tool that'll allow you to track the mission as it approaches with a 3D simulation of the mission's location in space.

As you'll see in the timeline (subject to change), the last trajectory correction maneuver scheduled is TCM-6. That's set for February 18, 2021, "9 hours before landing," with the activity description: "Contingency maneuver, if needed. Final opportunity to adjust where the spacecraft will enter the Mars atmosphere."

The next TCM here in 2020 is December 18, 2020, 62 days before landing. That'll be TCM-3, with activity description "To make sure the spacecraft travels at the right speed and direction to arrive at the correct location at the top of the Martian atmosphere before landing." Cross your fingers and watch with us!