Mars landing comes down to final 6 minutes of 6-month trip

Nasa In Sight Mission’s live streaming at QNL on Monday

This illustration shows a simulated view of NASA's In Sight lander descending on its parachute toward the surface of Mars. Credits NASA JPL-Caltech

Jezero Crater will be where NASA's yet-to-be-named rover will land on February 18, 2021, the space agency announced today.

Attendees will have the chance to have live conversations with scientists from Nasa about the landing and the wider mission.

One week before the next Mars mission is due to land, NASA has chosen the landing site for its next next Mars mission. The communication lag between Mars and Earth is eight minutes.

As it once hosted an ancient lake-delta system, NASA hopes Jezero also contains a variety of minerals, which would hugely help discover more about the red planet. Only about one-third of missions launched to Mars survive a landing; the United States is the only country to have successfully landed anything on the red planet. Though this is the case, there are still existing orbiters that can support the mission such as NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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"The landing site in Jezero Crater offers geologically rich terrain, with landforms reaching as far back as 3.6 billion years old, that could potentially answer important questions in planetary evolution and astrobiology", NASA's Thomas Zurbuchen said in a statement.

The crater is made of numerous boulders and rocks to the east, cliffs to the west and depressions filled with aeolian bedforms, which are wind-derived ripples in sand that could trap a rover, in several locations, NASA explained. This is a largely nondescript area of Mars devoid of any major geological features.

"But what was once out of reach is now conceivable, thanks to the 2020 engineering team and advances in Mars entry, descent and landing technologies".

The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered Mars 2020 rover is built on the same basic design as NASA's Curiosity rover, which has been exploring Mars' Gusev Crater for more than six years.

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The lander will enter Mars' atmosphere and land on a flat equatorial plain north of the planet's equator known as the Elysium Planitia.

The landing is extremely challenging to get right because of the planet's thin atmosphere.

Unlike the Curiosity and the Opportunity rovers sent as part of NASA's program to study the surface of the planet, the InSight's objective is to dig deep and listen for quakes.

If all goes well, MarCO may take a few seconds to receive and format the data before sending it back to Earth at the speed of light. This was reported by the press service of the space Agency.

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