NASA Video Touts Perseverance’s Upcoming Mars Arrival

NASA is starting to add excitement about the Mars landing of their most advanced rover yet.

This week, the Space Agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which oversees the mission, released a movie-like trailer showing the arrival of its Perseverance rover to the Martian surface on February 18, 2021.

The video (above) shows a cool animation showing the final stages of Perseverance’s long journey from Earth, which began in July 2020.

“After nearly 470 million km (300 million miles), NASA’s Perseverance rover will complete its journey to Mars on February 18, 2021,” JPL said in a message published with the video. “But in order to reach the surface of the red planet, it must survive the harrowing final stages known as entry, descent and landing.”

And “shocking” is certainly the key word here. Perseverance and the spaceship it carries face extreme challenges as they near the surface of Mars. The final stage of Perseverance’s journey to Mars begins when the spaceship reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere while traveling at a speed of 19,500 km / h.

The spacecraft’s heat shield is at its hottest around 75 seconds after entering the atmosphere, when the temperature on the outer surface of the shield reaches around 1,300 degrees Celsius.

To increase the chances of a safe landing, the mission team added new technologies known as Range Trigger and Terrain-Relative Navigation, which were not present when Curiosity landed on Mars in 2012.

Range Trigger is a new technique developed to improve the timing of parachute deployment and provide a more accurate landing position. The parachute opens 4 minutes after entering at an altitude of approximately 11 km while falling at a speed of 1,512 km / h. Twenty seconds after the parachute is deployed, the heat shield releases and falls off.

Approximately 90 seconds after the heat shield has been separated, the rear shell with the attached parachute leaves the descent step and the rover at an altitude of approximately 2.1 km. At this point, the descent stage rockets are fired to slow the spaceship (for the powered descent phase) from 306 km / h at 2,100 m to 2.7 km at 20 m. above the surface.

Terrain-based navigation, which begins at the beginning of the motorized descent, is a type of autopilot system that can be used to quickly locate the spacecraft and select the safest landing destination that can be reached. Interestingly, the system can change the rover’s touchdown point by up to 600 meters.

In the final moments, the descent stage will extend the nylon cords that hold stamina and lower the rover a distance of three feet. When the spaceship detects that the rover has touched down, the connection cables break off.

Perseverance is said to land in Jezero Crater, a 45 km wide impact basin with an ancient river delta, steep cliffs, sand dunes, boulders and smaller impact craters.

The main goals of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission are to find signs of ancient life, collect rock and soil samples for return to Earth, and collect data for future human exploration of the distant planet.

The mission will also see an aircraft fly for the first time on another planet when NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter, which flies with endurance, takes off from the surface of Mars for its maiden flight.

NASA’s mission is not the only one making its way to Mars. Others from China and the United Arab Emirates are also expected to reach the planet in February 2021.

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