There is a lot of action on Mars this month.
So far, two orbiter missions to Mars have reached the red planet and are now sending back data.
And, on Feb. 18, a new rover created by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge called Perseverance is expected to land.
Click on the image to go to the NASA’s mission site:
By the time the Perseverance rover lands on the red planet, it will have traveled 293 million miles from Earth. It takes light about 11 minutes to travel between the two planets because of the distance.
The rover introduces a drill that can collect core samples of the most promising rocks and soils and set them aside in a cache on the surface of Mars. NASA hopes to send another mission to Mars to retrieve the samples collected.
See the landing: The NASA TV broadcast from Mission Control starts at 11:15 a.m. You can catch it online at mars.nasa.gov.
Key mission objectives are:
- Explore a geologically diverse landing site
- Assess ancient habitability
- Seek signs of ancient life, particularly in special rocks known to preserve signs of life over time
- Gather rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth by a future NASA mission
- Demonstrate technology for future robotic and human exploration
Sources: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Space.com, NASA.gov, University of Arizona, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Photos by NASA/JPL