After launching the Perserverance Rover on 30 July 2020, NASA announces that you can watch the Mars landing live in mid-February. The broadcast from NASA’s Mission Control starts at 18 February 2021, 11:15 am PST (or 19 February 2021, 3:15 am in Malaysian time).
Previously called the Mars 2020 rover, NASA chose the name Perseverance as the winner of a naming competition after a 7th grader suggested the name. NASA plans to use the rover to drill into the planet to collect samples of rock and soil for a future mission.
The Mars Perseverance is also programmed to drop a small helicopter—named Ingenuity—from its belly. It will be used conduct the first-ever powered flight on another planet.
The rover’s new home in Mars will be at Jezero Crater. Scientists believe the area was once flooded with water and was home to an ancient river delta—and it could be one of the most ideal places to find evidence of ancient microbial life.
One of the biggest reasons why watching the broadcast live will be exciting is that only about 40 percent of the missions ever sent to Mars have been successful. Perseverance is only the fifth NASA rover to attempt landing on the Red Planet.
“During landing, the rover plunges through the thin Martian atmosphere, with the heat shield first, at a speed of over 12,000 mph (about 20,000 kph). A parachute and powered descent slow the rover down to about 2 mph (three-fourths of a meter per second). A large sky crane then lowers the rover on three bridle cords to land softly on six wheels. Landing on Mars is hard,” wrote NASA.
You can watch the broadcast here starting from 3.15 am, 19 February 2021 (Malaysian time). However, the Rover itself is expected to touch down on Mars at 4.55 am (Malaysian time), just in case you want to catch up on some more sleep before it happens.
Meanwhile, China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft is scheduled to reach Mars orbit on 10 February, but the landing is only expected sometime in May. And the UAE’s Hope Probe will orbit Mars to study the Martian atmosphere, but it won’t land on the surface.