In one small step for a rover, but one huge leap for mankind’s Mars space plans, NASA is set to launch a new mission to the red planet today.
Carrying both the state-of-the-art rover called Perseverance and a new experimental helicopter called Ingenuity, the space agency’s Alliance Atlas V rocket will be launching from Cape Canaveral – and you can watch the entire thing live.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to watch the Mars Perseverance Rover launch today.
How to watch the Mars Perseverance Rover launch live
The Mars Perseverance Rover will launch at 12.50pm BST (7.50am EDT, local time) on Thursday 30th July. It will be streamed live by NASA on its website from 12pm (BST).
The event is set to go ahead as scheduled, with meteorologists predicting favourable weather conditions.
The mission was first set to blast off on 17th July, but was postponed due to preparation delays. If the launch doesn’t go ahead by mid-august, NASA may have to delay the mission to 2022 – Earth and Mars only come relatively close to each other every 26 months.
When will the mission land on Mars?
Perseverance is expected to touch down on Mars at 8.40pm (BST) on 18th February 2021.
It is aiming to land in the Jezero crater, a place that was filled with water approximatively 3.5 billion years ago. It is hoped that the rover will be able to detect evidence of past life on the planet.
What is the Perseverance rover?
Perseverance is a robotic rover about the size of a car. It’s nearly identical in design to the Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars in 2012.
Perseverance is fitted with cameras and two microphones, which are hoped will be the first to record sounds on another planet.
What is the Ingenuity helicopter?
Although scientists can’t be sure if the four-pound ‘copter will work, they’re hoping its rotors (spinning at 24,000 RPM) will generate enough power to fly over the planet.
However, flying on Mars is much tougher than on Earth. For starters, there’s not as much air that can generate lift – the Martian atmosphere is 100 times less dense than our own. In total, its flight will last only 90 seconds.
Ingenuity is equipped with two cameras, which are hoped will capture some bird’s eye view of Mars.
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