NASA will scheduled land its first rover on Mars in nearly three years when the Perseverance descends to the Jezero Crater on February 18. A special livestream for students will start at 9:30 a.m. PT; the landing broadcast will begin at 11:15 a.m. PT.
Space fans will be able to watch the historic event from the comfort of their homes via NASA’s official YouTube page. (NASA will also offer a Spanish-language stream here.) Though the Perseverance rover is equipped with cameras and microphones, NASA will not be able to offer a live feed of the rover’s actual landing due to data delays during its descent. That said, NASA will still offer live feeds of its mission control room from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. and the Perseverance will be able to transmit low-resolution images of Mars’ surface shortly after landing. The high-tech rover’s cameras and microphones will transmit data that shows what it sounds and looks like to land on another planet.
NASA chose to land its Perseverance Rover in Jezero Crater because the area was home to an actively-forming river delta and lake filled with water billions of years ago. Collecting samples from the region — which the Perseverance is equipped for — could allow NASA to answer key questions about extraterrestrial life.
“Perseverance’s sophisticated science instruments will not only help in the hunt for fossilized microbial life, but also expand our knowledge of Martian geology and its past, present, and future,” Caltech’s Ken Farley, project scientist for Mars 2020, said in a statement on January 27. “Our science team has been busy planning how best to work with what we anticipate will be a firehose of cutting-edge data. That’s the kind of ‘problem’ we are looking forward to.”
The Perseverance Rover is equipped with a small helicopter named Ingenuity that NASA hopes to fly around the planet to collect data. Ingenuity will mark NASA’s first experimental flight test on another planet.
“NASA has been exploring Mars since Mariner 4 performed a flyby in July of 1965, with two more flybys, seven successful orbiters, and eight landers since then,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement on January 27. “Perseverance, which was built from the collective knowledge gleaned from such trailblazers, has the opportunity to not only expand our knowledge of the Red Planet, but to investigate one of the most important and exciting questions of humanity about the origin of life both on Earth and also on other planets.”
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