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NASA’S Mars mission begins tonight; Check timings, Mars Rover landing process and streaming details

As per the sources, the mission carries the sophisticated fossil-hunting rover Perseverance, and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which therefore referred as the first chopper to fly on another planet.

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NASA’S Mars mission begins tonight; Check timings, landing process and other details

NASA’s most ambitious and expensive mission to the Red Planet, Mars 2020, is finally scheduled to touch down on its surface this Friday.

As per the sources, the mission carries the sophisticated fossil-hunting rover Perseverance, and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which therefore referred as the first chopper to fly on another planet.

The design of Perseverance is borrowed heavily from Curiosity’s as well. The rover is 3m long, 2.7m wide, and 2.2m tall — similar to Curiosity — and weighs 1,025 kg on Earth (Curiosity was 899 kg), making it 393 kg on Mars thanks to the weaker gravity on Mars.

NASA’S Mars mission

Its mission — astrobiological in nature — includes assessing the planet’s habitability and looking for evidence of past or present life by studying biosignatures in the Jezero crater, an ancient lakebed that is believed to have once been filled with liquid water when conditions were more hospitable.

Touchdown is expected around 3:55 p.m. Eastern time. NASA Television will begin broadcasting coverage from the mission’s control room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California at 2:15 p.m.

The landing process will start at 8.38pm GMT (02.08 am IST on 19 February), when the heat shield capsule housing the spacecraft will enter the atmosphere, and end at 8.55 pm GMT (02.25 am IST) when the rover touches down.

How will the landing process take place?

The mission’s landing will mimic the “seven minutes of terror” — a name given to the complicated sequence of manoeuvres needed to land on Mars  — that the Curiosity lander underwent as it touched down on the Red Planet in 2012.

As per the sources, the mission carries the sophisticated fossil-hunting rover Perseverance, and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which therefore referred as the first chopper to fly on another planet.

What are its Scientific Objectives?

The Perseverance rover’s objective is to study and understand the geology of Mars, and look for evidence of past microbial life on the planet. It will do so by collecting and storing soil and rock samples for a future sample-return mission, while also analysing samples in-situ.

There are a total of 25 cameras on the rover’s body.

It carries seven science payloads. Two of these are sophisticated camera systems. The Mastcam-Z has panoramic and stereoscopic imaging ability, as well as zoom, and can perform mineral analysis on soil.

The SuperCam can take pictures and perform chemical composition analysis on rock samples. It also carries a microphone.

The rover also houses a sophisticated drilling system.

Ingenuity Helicopter

The Ingenuity helicopter is an experimental tech demonstrator. It will be the first to attempt a powered flight on Mars. It is independent of the mission’s science objectives that will be carried out by Perseverance.

To fly in Mars’ thin atmosphere, which is about 1 per cent the atmospheric volume of Earth’s atmosphere, the helicopter’s blades rotate really fast, at about 2,400 revolutions per minute (rpm). Helicopters on Earth, which are actually subject to three times as much gravity, spin at 500 rpm.

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