NASA's Mars rover, Perseverance, is finally set to land on the surface of Mars almost seven months after it blasted off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This has been one of the most ambitious missions for the American space agency and it will focus on searching for evidence of ancient microbial life while also understanding how habitable the planet was in the past. But, before that happens, the rover will look to make a brave seven-minute landing on the Red Planet, which will be one of the most challenging parts of the upcoming mission.
In Mars missions, the 'seven minutes of terror' is actually referred to the entry, descent and landing (EDL) phase of the rover as the events take place much quicker than the radio signals can reach Earth from Mars for communication. The Perseverance rover will get into its landing phase starting at 3:48 PM EST. This is when the Mars Seven Minutes of Terror sequence will begin for the engineers. The engineers overlooking the event won't be able to guide or direct the Perseverance landing as it takes a while to establish or send any communication from Earth to Mars. Hence, the rover will have to perform a landing itself, with no human guidance involved. In other words, the experts wouldn't be sure if the Perseverance has safely landed during that period.
The Perseverance rover is expected to land on the Red Planet on Thursday at around 3:55 PM EST, which is 7 minutes from when it enters the 'seven minutes of terror' sequence at 3:48 PM EST. NASA has also started the live streaming broadcast for the event on its official YouTube channel. You can watch Perseverance's entry, descent, and landing on Mars by playing the video embedded below.
The Perseverance rover will also carry a helicopter to Mars which has been called 'Ingenuity'. It is a drone which has been designed to fly on the Red Planet for the first time.
Image credits: NASA