mars landing rover animation
Why NASA calls landing the Mars rover '7 minutes of terror'
01:26 - Source: CNN Business
CNN  — 

In 22 days, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will land on Mars in Jezero Crater to search for signs of ancient life that may have been on the red planet in the past.

The rover, which is the largest and most advanced rover NASA has ever built, will act as a robotic geologist, collecting samples of dirt and rocks that will eventually be returned to Earth by the 2030s.

For that reason, Perseverance is also the cleanest machine ever sent to Mars, designed so it doesn’t contaminate the Martian samples with any microbes from Earth, providing a false reading.

Live coverage from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be available on the agency’s website on February 18, the day of the landing, beginning at 2:15 p.m. ET.

The mission teams have made many modifications due to the pandemic, but they have adapted to work safely and effectively. The team that will be at JPL during the landing conducted an adapted simulation of the landing that transpired last week over three days.

“Don’t let anybody tell you different – landing on Mars is hard to do,” said John McNamee, project manager for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission at JPL, in a statement. “But the women and men on this team are the best in the world at what they do. When our spacecraft hits the top of the Mars atmosphere at about three-and-a-half miles per second, we’ll be ready.”

Perseverance is the latest step in NASA’s long history of exploring the red planet. It builds on lessons learned from previous missions with new goals that will shed more light on the history of Mars.

“NASA has been exploring Mars since Mariner 4 performed a flyby in July of 1965, with two more flybys, seven successful orbiters, and eight landers since then,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, in a statement.

“Perseverance, which was built from the collective knowledge gleaned from such trailblazers, has the opportunity to not only expand our knowledge of the Red Planet, but to