NASA recently made it public that its one-ton rover “Perseverance” is scheduled to land on Mars on February 18, 2021. The rover will be sent to a crater named Jezero to find traces of life there. However, to conduct the research, the rover first needs to attain a soft landing.
The sequence of procedures for landing on Mars is often called the “Seven Minutes of Terror”, and rightly so. A set of complicated procedures has to be completed in a short time; moreover, the processes are carried out automatically.
The process of landing will commence when the rover is more than 100 kilometers above Mars. After contact with Mars’ first atmosphere, the rover encased within the protective capsule will hurl towards the surface of Mars at a speed of 20,000 km per hour.
In just 400 seconds, the descent system must reduce the speed of the rover to less than 1 meter per second. The heat shield takes care of the descend into the Martian atmosphere.
Deployment of a supersonic parachute from the protective cabin reduces the speed of the rover to 1,200 km per hour. The “Perseverance” rover will use a parachute to descend a little more than a minute to slow down the descent further.
However, the most difficult phase starts at 2 km above the surface of Mars. At that stage, the speed of the rover will be reduced to 100 meters per second, and the Perseverance rover and the Skycrane vehicle will separate from the protective capsule.
The eight rockets responsible for the Skycrane will also help the rover hover above the landing site. The rover will use nylon rope to descend to the surface of Mars.
Once the rover senses that it is about to touch the ground, it immediately has to cut the cable to detach itself from Skycrane.
It takes approximately 700 seconds for radio signals to reach earth from Mars, which means that by the time NASA receives information about the landing, the Perseverance may already have successfully landed on the surface of Mars.
The “Perseverance” rover will use a camera and microphone to record its descent. On a successful landing, the record will be sent back to Earth.