Nasa's Mars mission 2021: Watch Perseverance land on Mars tonight online

This illustration provided by Nasa depicts the Mars 2020 spacecraft carrying the Perseverance rover as it approaches Mars. AP/PTI Photo
Nasa's Mars Mission 2021: Nasa’s Mars rover Perseverance, a robotic astrobiology lab packed inside a space capsule will hit the final stretch of its seven-month journey from Earth tonight ( 2:25 am), and is set to emit a radio alert as it streaks into the thin Martian atmosphere. Tomorrow's landing will be a key milestone for the agency’s future Mars exploration plans. The spacecraft is scheduled to land the rover Perseverance in the Jezero Crater on Mars at about 3:55 pm EST (Thursday). That time is when the signals from the spacecraft arrive on Earth based on a light travel time of 11 minutes and 22 seconds from Mars.

Here's how you will be able to watch the historic event unfold

The Perseverance rover will land on Mars on Thursday at 3:55 p.m. EST. For India, the time would be 2:25 am (Friday). Nasa's live landing broadcast on Thursday begins at 2:15 p.m. EST (1915 GMT). You'll be able to watch it directly from Nasa's YouTube channel. You can ask questions on any of Nasa's social media feeds (@Nasa) using the hashtag #CountdowntoMars.

About Nasa Rover's landing on the Martian surface

The six-wheeled rover is expected to take 7 minutes to descend from the top of the Martian atmosphere to the planet’s surface in less time than the 11-minute-plus radio transmission to Earth. Thus, Thursday’s final, self-guided descent of the rover spacecraft is set to occur during a white-knuckled interval that JPL engineers affectionately refer to as the “seven minutes of terror.”

Importance of Nasa's Mars mission 2021

Building on discoveries of nearly 20 US outings to Mars dating back to Mariner 4’s 1965 flyby, Perseverance may set the stage for scientists to conclusively show whether life has existed beyond Earth, while paving the way for eventual human missions to the fourth planet from the sun. 

Success will hinge on a complex sequence of events unfolding without a hitch - from inflation of a giant, supersonic parachute to deployment of a jet-powered “sky crane” that will descend to a safe landing spot and hover above the surface while lowering the rover to the ground on a tether.

If all goes as planned, Nasa’s team would receive a follow-up radio signal shortly before 1 p.m. Pacific time confirming that Perseverance landed on Martian soil at the edge of an ancient, long-vanished river delta and lake bed.

From there, the nuclear battery-powered rover, roughly the size of a small SUV, will embark on the primary objective of its two-year mission - engaging a complex suite of instruments in the search for signs of microbial life that may have flourished on Mars billions of years ago.

Advanced power tools will drill samples from Martian rock and seal them into cigar-sized tubes for eventual return to Earth for further analysis - the first such specimens ever collected by humankind from the surface of another planet.

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