NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has published an animated video of the upcoming landing of the monochromatic Martian rover Perseverance, which is scheduled for February 18 next year. The robotic vehicle should land in the Martian crater Jezero and look for evidence of the existence of life on the Red Planet in the past. But before that, he will have to experience “seven minutes of horror,” as noted by the American space agency.
Before landing, the spacecraft must perform a series of very difficult maneuvers. That part of the latter, which NASA dubbed “seven minutes of horror”, is called so for a reason. If at this moment something does not go according to plan, then a very large and expensive artificial hole will appear on the surface of the Red Planet, surrounded by the debris of an apparatus worth several billion dollars. More importantly, it will not be possible to prevent an abnormal situation, since the entire landing process will be automatic. At the time of landing, the Earth and Mars will be separated by 209 million kilometers, so it would be pointless to carry out the process in manual mode, since it will take about 700 seconds for the radio signal to overcome such a distance. Thus, everything that can be seen in the animation video below will be conducted exclusively by the on-board computers of the spacecraft itself.
Preparations for landing will begin at a distance of about 100 km above the surface of Mars, when the descent capsule first touches the highly rarefied atmosphere of the Red Planet. By this time, the speed of the capsule will be 20,000 km / h. In less than 400 seconds, the module’s landing system will reduce the travel speed to less than 1 meter per second.
A very important job at this moment will be assigned to the capsule heat shield, which will protect the rover from overheating at the time of descent and deceleration. The temperature overboard during this process will rise sharply to over 1000 degrees Celsius, and then also quickly drop. After passing through the upper atmosphere, the capsule with the rover, reducing its speed to 1200 km / h, will release a 22-meter parachute. Further descent will take a little over a minute, during which the capsule speed will continue to decrease.
At an altitude of about 2 km above the surface of the planet at a speed of about 360 km / h, the descent capsule will first release the heat shield, and then a special design “Skycrane” will separate from it together with the rover. It is mounted on a rover and equipped with a set of eight landing jet engines, with the help of which the Perseverance can hover over the surface of Mars, and then gently descend onto it on special cables.
As soon as the rover touches the surface of the patents, its computer will have to immediately send a command to the “Sky Crane” to release the device from the cables.
If there is a delay, the rover will take off again with the lander, which is tasked with disposing of itself at a safe distance from the rover’s landing zone.
The entire process described above will partly repeat the landing of the previous NASA Mars rover Curiosity, which landed on the Red Planet 8 years ago. As noted earlier, the delay in radio communications between Mars and Earth during landing will be 700 seconds. When NASA receives a message from Perseverance, the rover will either have successfully landed on the planet, or it will crash. The robotic vehicle is equipped with cameras and microphones, with the help of which the landing will be recorded. After landing, these files will be sent to Earth, which will confirm the successful start of the research mission.
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