NASA’s Perseverance rover is ready to land on Mars


NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is set to land on the red planet on Thursday. 

Perseverance is the agency’s fifth rover on Mars, and engineers managing the mission at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California wrote in a Tuesday news release that the rover was on track to descend at Mars’ Jezero Crater at approximately 3:55 p.m. EST.

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Scientists picked the 28-mile-wide crater after a five-year study of more than 60 potential sites, as they believe the crater was once flooded with water and home to an ancient river delta more than 3.5 billion years ago.

Landing on Mars is risky and around half of all previous Mars landing attempts have succeeded. Jezero Crater’s topography — which also includes cliffs, sand dunes and boulder fields — only increases the difficulty of the mission.

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - 2020/07/30: An Atlas V rocket with NASA's Perseverance Mars rover launches from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Mars 2020 mission plans to land the Perseverance rover on the Red Planet in February 2021 where it will seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES – 2020/07/30: An Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover launches from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Mars 2020 mission plans to land the Perseverance rover on the Red Planet in February 2021 where it will seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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