The world may soon catch a glimpse of some of the sights and sounds of Mars as NASA's Perseverance Mars rover is set to land on the red planet on Thursday.
It is just a matter of days before the shiny vehicle lands in Jezero Crater of Mars on Thursday, Feb. 18. It will be the first artificial object to land on the Mars surface since the Mars Insight lander space mission in 2018, and Curiosity, the first rover, touched down in 2012.
What makes Perseverance more exciting is the number of audio-visual equipment that it carries, to make sure that it beautifully captures the entry, descent, and landing, otherwise referred to as EDL.
Perseverance has a camera mounted on its back so that it can capture a view of the parachutes that will deploy during the rover's descent to slow it down. Beneath the rover is another camera that will orient the robot as it lands.
Aside from the two cameras that are essential for the robot's landing, there are other cameras that will capture other details, to clearly give more information to those waiting for the images on earth. There is also a microphone so as to capture the sounds of Mars.
Lori Glaze, head of NASA's Science Mission Directorate's Planetary Science Division, said that for the first time, people will be able to watch as the rover lands on another planet. Glaze, according to CNET, revealed this to reporters during a briefing in January.
The EDL phase received a lot of attention due to the complexity of the process. Allen Chen, the EDL lead of the project stated that while the process will only last about seven minutes, it is by far the most critical and dangerous part of the whole mission.
The Perseverance also has a similar hovering landing system to that of the Curiosity rover. The system, which they call "sky crane" will allow the rover to lower itself onto the surface softly.
The process of landing will not have intervention from mission control on earth. It is automated since sending signals back and forth from Earth to Mars and back is time-consuming and will only cause a delay.
Perseverance has instruments that will help look for any sign of life on the red planet, and it also has instruments to collect samples. Any sample that Perseverance will collect, it will bring back to Earth.
Chen revealed that people may see some low-resolution images of the Mars environment on the surface shortly after landing. There may be a few days waiting time for a better picture of the imagery and audio during the landing.