NASA's Perseverance rover successfully lands on Mars' Jezero crater
NASA's Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars' Jezero crater last night. NASA's YouTube channel streamed the event live from 00:45 AM IST on February 19. You can watch the historic feat using this link: https://youtu.be/gm0b_ijaYMQ. Perseverance landed on the Martian soil at 2:25 AM IST. NASA has achieved what was touted to be the most challenging landing ever attempted on the red planet.
Jezero crater's rough terrain made the landing a challenging feat
The live video feed took 11 minutes and 22 seconds to be relayed from Mars to Earth. Prior to touchdown on Mars, engineers on the ground at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) joked that the landing would be "seven minutes of terror". The touchdown was challenging because the rough terrain of the 45-kilometer-wide Jezero crater has steep cliffs, dunes, and boulder fields.
Perseverance rover was lowered to Martian surface using cables
The spacecraft entered the Martian atmosphere at a speed of around 20,000 km/h. The terrain-relative navigation radar was engaged 20 seconds after the deployment of the parachute during the course of the descent. The radar found a safe landing spot, with the retrorockets maneuvering the rover to a (relatively) smooth landing. Finally, the Perseverance rover was lowered to the ground using cables.
Mission control live feed was available on JPLraw YouTube channel
Perseverance is presently scouring the Martian surface for signs of ancient microbial life, while paving the way for manned missions to Mars among other things. The livestream was accompanied by a "clean feed of mission control" on the JPLraw YouTube channel. The landing was followed by a post-touchdown news briefing. Another follow-up update is scheduled for February 22.
Perseverance will stay on Mars for one Martian year
The Perseverance rover had lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on July 30 last year. After a six-month journey, the spacecraft reached Mars' orbit. The launch window took advantage of the proximity between Earth and Mars—an event that occurs once every two years. The Perseverance rover will remain on Mars for one Martian year which equals 687 days on Earth.