After traveling more than 470 733 million kilometres since July, NASA’s rover Perseverance is set to land on the red planet around 3:55pm EST today.
The rover will be looking for ancient signs of life, exploring the Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient lake that existed 3.9 billion years ago. It will be searching for microfossils in the rocks and soil there.
On board the rover, which is the size of an SUV, is a helicopter, called Ingenuity. It will be the first time that anyone has tried to fly a helicopter on another planet.
NASA is inviting the world to tune in to its countdown and landing commentary, which will stream live beginning on Thursday at 2:15 p.m. ET.
There have been 4 successful robotically operated Mars rovers. Curiosity, the last rover to be sent to the planet, was launched in November 2011 and landed on Mars in August, 2012. Its mission was originally for 2 years but, as of today (February 18th, 2021), Curiosity is still active, having been there for 3035 sols or 3118 Earth days, which is over 8.5 years.