The next rover that will land on the surface of the Red Planet is the Perseverance rover. The rover is scheduled to land on Mars on February 18, 2021. NASA has offered a new animated video that depicts key occurrences in the landing process for the rover.
Forces the rover will experience during the landing process are incredible. The spacecraft will have to slow down from about 12,100 mph as it enters the top of the Martian atmosphere to about two mph at touchdown in Jezero Crater. The mission for Perseverance is to search for signs of ancient microbial life on Mars.
The rover will also collect Martian rock and regolith samples. Other tasks involve attempts to characterize the geology and climate of Mars, which are part of efforts to pave the way for humans to step foot on Mars. Perseverance launched July 30, 2020, while it’s carrying multiple scientific instruments, one of the most exciting experiments that will be conducted involves the Mars Helicopter.
NASA is attempting to see if rotorcraft can operate on Mars. The challenge is that the Martian atmosphere is much thinner than the atmosphere on Earth, and it’s unclear if the helicopter will be able to fly. If helicopters can operate on Mars, it opens the door to a much broader exploration capability.
The NASA animation video can be seen above and is an interesting watch that’s only a bit over three minutes long. The animation certainly shows how impressive it is that humans can design a spacecraft able to survive and function in such a challenging environment. If you have nothing else to do on Christmas Eve, it’s worth a watch.