Space & Astronomy
Mars Perseverance and the '7 minutes of terror'
By T.K. Randall
December 23, 2020 · 1 comment
The landing will be harrowing to say the least. Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
NASA has released a new video to highlight the daring descent of the Perseverance rover once it reaches Mars.
After a journey spanning more than 6 months and almost 300 million miles, the successor to NASA's highly successful Curiosity Mars rover will arrive in orbit around the Red Planet and begin its descent.
Like its predecessor, it will undertake what is often referred to as 'seven minutes of terror' - a rapid, make-or-break descent through the Martian atmosphere beginning 100km above the planet.
At this point, it will have less than 400 seconds to reduce its speed from 12,000mph to just 1m/s - a feat achieved by first using a supersonic parachute, then NASA's 'Skycrane' system that will use 8 rockets to slow the rover down as it nears the ground.
Once it gets close enough, the rover will be lowered onto the surface using nylon cords. These will then detach and the Skyscrane will fly away to avoid landing on and damaging the vehicle.
While all this is going on, the engineers and scientists at NASA will be waiting with bated breath for the signal to come back indicating that the landing has been a success.
The very same landing method was used to get Curiosity onto Mars 12 years ago.
As things stand, Perseverance should arrive on February 18th.
A recently released animation showing the whole landing process can be viewed below.
Source: BBC News
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