(Image Sources: NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory - California Institute of Technology, Wikipedia.org, By NASA/JPL-Caltech - https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA24377.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99368524)
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
NASA's Perseverance Rover, with the Ingenuity Helicopter Drone, is set to land on Mars Thursday afternoon. Live coverage of the landing on NASA-TV and several other Internet platforms will be available (Internet links to live coverage, further into this blog-post).
The landing is scheduled to air “live” from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California on Thursday Afternoon, 2021 February 18 at approximately 3:55 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) / 20:55 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Actually, in this case “live” means 11 minutes and 22 seconds after the event occurred on Mars, due to the time it takes a radio signal to travel (at this particular time) from Mars to Earth.
NASA will begin live coverage on Thursday, beginning at 2:15 p.m. EST / 19:15 UTC. In addition to NASA-TV, which can be reached at the following Internet link:
NASA-TV LIVE COVERAGE: Link >>> https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive
Additional Live NASA Coverage ---
LIVE Landing Broadcast: Perseverance
Rover Lands on Mars
Channels that will carry the live broadcast include:
YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitch, DailyMotion, Theta.TV, and NASAApp
Clean-feed of mission control on YouTube
NASA JPL Raw
360-degreestream on YouTube
Live NASA coverage is expected to include the following key milestones, toward the landing, at the estimated times shown ---
– Cruise stage separation: The part of the spacecraft that has been flying Perseverance – with NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter attached to its belly – through space for the last six-and-a-half months will separate from the entry capsule at about 3:38 p.m. EST / 20:38 UTC.
– Atmospheric entry: The spacecraft is expected to hit the top of the Martian atmosphere traveling at about 12,100 miles-per-hour / 19,500 kilometers-per-hour at 3:48 p.m. EST / 20:48 UTC.
– Peak heating: Friction from the atmosphere will heat up the bottom of the spacecraft to temperatures as high as about +2,370 degrees Fahrenheit / +1,300 degrees Celsius at 3:49 p.m. EST / 20:49 UTC.
– Parachute deployment: The spacecraft will deploy its parachute at supersonic speed at around 3:52 p.m. EST / 20:52 UTC. The exact deployment time is based on the new RangeTrigger technology, which improves the precision of the spacecraft’s ability to hit a landing target.
– Heat shield separation: The protective bottom of the entry capsule will detach about 20 seconds after the parachute deployment. This allows the rover to use a radar to determine how far it is from the ground and employ its Terrain-RelativeNavigation technology to find a safe landing site.
– Back shell separation: The back half of the entry capsule that is fastened to the parachute will separate from the rover and its “jet-pack” (known as the descent stage) at 3:54 p.m. EST / 20:54 UTC. The jet-pack will use retrorockets to slow down and fly to the landing site.
– Touch-down: The spacecraft’s descent stage, using the skycrane maneuver, will lower the rover down to the surface on nylon tethers. The rover is expected to touch-down on the surface of Mars at human walking speed (about 1.7 miles-per-hour, or 2.7 kilometers-per-hour) at around 3:55 p.m. EST / 20:55 UTC.
“Perseverance is NASA’s most ambitious Mars rover mission yet, focused scientifically on finding out whether there was ever any life on Mars in the past,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. “To answer this question, the landing team will have its hands full getting us to Jezero Crater – the most challenging Martian terrain ever targeted for a landing.”
Along with the first aerial demonstration drone on a planet other than Earth, this mission is specifically designed to look for signs of previous, microbial life on the Red Planet. Astrobiology is the main mission for Perseverance, originally called the Mars 2020 mission.
Additionally, this will be the first mission which collects and stores Martian rocks and sentiment for eventual return to Earth. It is expected that a future NASA spacecraft, in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), will pick-up the stored Martian soil and return it to Earth for detailed analysis, sometime in the future.
Perseverance will land in an ancient crater on Mars called Jezero. It is here that scientists speculate that ancient rivers sent water and sentiment into an ancient lake. If life ever had a start on Mars billions of years ago, this is a likely location where evidence of such past life may be found.
Only about half of the missions sent to Mars, over the last 50 years, have been successful. And, the landing of Perseverance will be one of the most challenging. Jezero Crater has steep cliffs, sand dunes, and boulder fields which make a landing here problematic.
“The Perseverance team is putting the final touches on the complex choreography required to land in Jezero Crater,” said Jennifer Trosper, deputy project manager for the mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “No Mars landing is guaranteed, but we have been preparing a decade to put this rover’s wheels down on the surface of Mars and get to work.”
The Ingenuity Helicopter Drone is a demonstration project, to learn if powered flight is possible in the thin atmosphere of Mars. If this demonstration project proves successful, larger and more sophisticated helicopters may be included in future missions to Mars, as well as to other planets and moons.
Internet Links to Additional Information ---
NASA Mars Perseverance Rover:
Link 1 >>> https://www.nasa.gov/perseverance
NASA Mars Ingenuity Helicopter Drone:
Link 1 >>> https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter/
Mars: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars
Related Blog-Posts ---
"Astro-Calendar: 2021 Feb. / 3 Probes Visit Mars This Month." Mon., 2021 Feb. 1.
"NASA Laser Retroreflector Going to Mars on Perseverance Rover." Wed., 2020 Oct. 7.
"Thur.-AM U.S. Joins China & U.A.E in Race to Mars; Watch Launch Live." Mon. 2020 July 27.
Public Invited to Vote to Name NASA's Mars 2020 Rover--By This Monday, Jan. 27." Thur., 2020 Jan. 23.
For Students: Mars 2020 Name the Rover Essay Contest By Nov. 1." Tue., 2019 Oct. 15.
"Place Your Name on Mars 2020 Rover Microchip By This Monday, Sept. 30." Thur., 2019 Sept. 26.
Wednesday, 2021 February 17.
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Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
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