NASA's Perseverance rover: Experts discuss Mars landing

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By the time Perseverance touches down in the Jezero Crater of Mars this evening, the machine will have travelled more than 292 million miles. However, despite spending more than six months in the dead of space, NASA has warned the most treacherous part is yet to begin. While NASA is confident over the upcoming mission, there are reasons to be cautious.

According to the space agency, just two-fifths of missions to the Red Planet have been a success.

One of the main obstacles is the 11-minute signal delay as data travels from the Red Planet back to ground control.

This means the feat needs to be achieved through pre-programming.

Perseverance is currently travelling at more than 47,000 miles per hour.

However, it has been programmed to “slam the breaks” as it cuts its speed in half in just a matter of minutes.

Once it enters the atmosphere of Mars, a parachute will need to be deployed, dropping the speed once again to just 200 miles per hour.

All the while, thrusters will have to automatically kick in to ensure the rover stays on course.

As a result, the official Perseverance Twitter account has warned a lot can go wrong.

The NASA-run account tweeted: “Today’s the day. Trip to Mars, 99.9 percent complete.

“The most dangerous part comes last: the final seven minutes.”

NASA has previously warned: “Landing on Mars is hard. Only about 40 percent of the missions ever sent to Mars – by any space agency – have been successful.

“Hundreds of things have to go just right during this nail-biting drop.

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“What’s more, Perseverance has to handle everything by itself.

“During the landing, it takes more than 11 minutes to get a radio signal back from Mars, so by the time the mission team hears that the spacecraft has entered the atmosphere, in reality, the rover is already on the ground.”

Only six countries have made it to Mars, with two of them coming last week.

The US, the former Soviet Union, European Space Agency and India have all reached Mars before, while the UAE and China achieved the feat last week.

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