Mars Perseverance rover: When will Perseverance land on Mars?

NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars in animation

Perseverance launched on July 30 last year to explore the planet Mars for evidence of alien life, both past and present. The plucky rover flew aboard a United Launch Alliance (UAL) Atlas V rocket, propelled onto a six-month-long journey through the vacuum of space. The NASA rover is now racing towards Mars at speeds of nearly 51,500mph and the good news is the rover has entered the last stretch of its journey.

Where is the Mars Perseverance rover now?

The Mars rover is racing towards the Red Planet inside of a cone-shaped protective shell and heat shield that will stay with Perseverance until it hits the Martian atmosphere.

As of the evening of January 5, Perseverance has travelled more than 240,226,000 miles from Earth and has less than 53 million miles left to go.

According to NASA’s official Perseverance tracker, the rover is already 82 percent of the way there.

The rover is targetting a landing site inside of Mars’s Jezero Crater – an ancient lakebed that may have once been habitable for simple life.

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When will Perseverance land on Mars?

Despite the rover’s launch suffering multiple delays before July 30, the rover is still pencilled to land on the Red Planet by mid-February.

Launching to Mars is a tricky affair as Mars and Earth need to be in the right positions for the payload to intercept the Red Planet at the right time.

According to NASA, the two planets are in the right position only once every 26 months.

You also have to consider how long it will take a payload to reach Mars – up to nine months at a time.

NASA test Perseverance rover ahead of Mars mission

NASA said: “In the nine months it takes to get to Mars, Mars moves a considerable distance around in its orbit, about 3/8 of the way around the Sun.

“You have to plan ahead to make sure that by the time you reach the distance of Mar’s orbit, that Mars is where you need it to be.”

As such, Perseverance is expected to land in Jezero Crater on February 18.

The landing is pencilled in for about 8.30pm GMT (3.30pm EST, 12.30pm PST).

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Follow on the day of the landing for the latest coverage, live broadcasts and news from the incredible achievement.

NASA said: “During landing, the rover plunges through the thin Martian atmosphere, with the heat shield first, at a speed of over 12,000mph (about 20,000kph).

“A parachute and powered descent slow the rover down to about 2mph (three-fourths of a metre per second).

“A large sky crane then lowers the rover on three bridle cords to land softly on six wheels.

What will the Perseverance rover do on Mars?

The goal of the Mars 2020 mission is to explore the Red Planet for signs of alien life.

Scientists believe the planet once resembled a young Earth with a hot and humid atmosphere and running water.

Today, Mars is a cold and barren world but simple microbial life may have once evolved.

If life did evolve on Mars, and if it still exists, chances are it can be found under the surface in places like Jezero where water once was present.

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