Tonight, all eyes of earthly enthusiasts (or almost) will be on Perseverance’s attempt to land on Mars. But not only. In orbit around the planet, several probes will also be calibrated so as not to miss anything about the event.
This is the big day ! Launched on July 30 from an Atlas V rocket, from the United Launch Alliance, the Perseverance rover is preparing for its expected landing this evening. Several links are available at the end of the article to be able to follow the event live. If successful, NASA will have three devices active on the surface of Mars: the Curiosity rover, the insight lander, and Perseverance.
However, remember that several probes are also in orbit around the planet.
Landing seen from above
On the one hand, we have the orbiters of the European Space Agency. ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) will send data to Earth as early as four hours after landing, while the probe March Express is already concentrated on the landing site, the Jezero crater. It has been providing information to NASA for several days for its descent preparations, and will attempt to photograph Perseverance on the surface in the weeks following its landing.
Two other probes ordered by NASA will also be requisitioned for the occasion. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), on the one hand, will be placed just above Perseverance during its attempted landing. Its objective will be to retrieve the information from the rover, then send it back to NASA’s antennas so that the agency can confirm the landing, which is expected to take place. around 9:55 p.m. (French time).
“MRO has been newly configured to send telemetry data to Earth throughout the landing timeline in 5 second packets, with approximately 16 second latency”, notes the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in a press release.
NASA will also rely on the MRO to attempt to photograph the rover during its descent, just like in 2012 with Curiosity.
The agency will also commission its orbiter Atmosphere of Mars and volatile evolution (MAVEN). This probe does not generally return information from surface craft, because the data received requires more in-depth processing. MAVEN’s observations will nevertheless be useful in gathering more information on the descent of Perseverance. They should be available approximately ten hours after landing.
Here are two French-speaking links to follow the event live: