NASA Set To Have Vehicle Land On Mars In Fifth Ever Attempt

(Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Elizabeth Louise Contributor
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is set to have their Perseverance rover attempt to land on Mars on Thursday afternoon, making it the fifth rover to land on the surface.

The vehicle which began its journey to Mars in July 2020 will attempt to touch down on Mars at around 3:55 p.m., as part of a mission to seek to answer the question as to whether or not life existed on another planet, according to NBC news.

“Perseverance is attempting to answer one of the biggest questions in the history of humanity: Is there life elsewhere in the solar system?” explained Chris Carberry, Co-Founder, and CEO of the nonprofit organization, Explore Mars. “If people can’t get excited about this mission, I don’t know what’s wrong with them.”

Landing on Mars could prove to be challenging for the rover due to the fact that landing on the planet involves following a precise sequence of events, and it must survive the descent which is dubbed as the “seven minutes of terror.”

“Once it enters Mars’ atmosphere, the entire spacecraft is pretty much acting autonomously,” explained Janet Ivey, the President of Explore Mars. “You can’t send a message from Earth to divert it from landing on a hill or near a big rock. It’s a nail-biter for sure.”

In addition, due to the fact that communication between NASA‘s mission control and the rover will be limited, the rover will essentially be on its own during its descent to the planet.

“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,” Jennifer Trosper, the Deputy Project Manager for the Perseverance mission located at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said.

Once the rover successfully touches down, it will be exploring the Jezero Crater, which consists of large rocks, cliffs, and sand dunes, another factor that could also prove to provide a challenging landing to the rover. (RELATED: ‘It Looks Very Weird’: Harvard Astronomer Argues Alien Life Might have Been Behind Unexplained Object)

Jezero Crater is believed by scientists to be the home of an ancient lake that once upon a time supported life roughly 3.5 billion years ago. Scientists believe this location is ideal to search for microfossils, and to collect samples of the rocks and soil, according to NBC.

“Perseverance could conceivably find fossilized microbial life, “explained Robert Zubrin, the author of “The Case for Mars.” “If we could drill, find these microfossils, bring them up and subject them to all kinds of examination, we would find out the truth about life in the universe. That is powerful stuff.”

In addition, the rover is also transporting a helicopter called, Ingenuity, which is a part of a mission to fly the first helicopter on another planet. The drone, which weighs roughly 4 pounds will have the capability to scout the landscape of Mars.

As Perseverance completed its descent to Mars, NASA provided updates regarding its speed, altitude, and operations from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Following Perseverance’s completed descent from the atmosphere, the rover successfully touched down on the red planet at 3:55 p.m.