How to Watch NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover Landing on February 18

After roughly seven months and 293 million miles of traveling, NASA’s latest rover is nearing its destination: Jezero Crater on Mars. The area is thought to have once been home to a body of water the size of Lake Tahoe and the rover, known as Perseverance, will be using its array of instruments to search for signs of ancient life. Oh, and did we mention it’s also packing a remote-controlled helicopter drone named Ingenuity?

What We’ll We See?

NASA will be livestreaming the craft’s entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on Thursday, February 18th so we can all follow along here on Earth. The EDL phase kicks off when Perseverance approaches the top of the Martian atmosphere and marks what NASA engineers have informally called “seven minutes of terror” — the approximate time it’ll take for the rover to land.

You’ll be able to tune in as engineers await confirmations for key events like atmospheric entry, parachute deployment, and (hopefully) a safe and successful touchdown.

 An illustration of NASA's Perseverance rover landing safely on Mars. Hundreds of critical events must execute perfectly and exactly on time for the rover to land safely on Feb. 18, 2021. Entry, Descent, and Landing, or "EDL," begins when the spacecraft reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere, travelling nearly 12,500 mph (20,000 kph). EDL ends about seven minutes after atmospheric entry, with Perseverance stationary on the Martian surface. At about 6,900 feet (2,100 meters) above the surface, the rover separates from the backshell, and fires up the descent stage engines. As the descent stage levels out and slows to its final descent speed of about 1.7 mph (2.7 kph), it initiates the "skycrane" maneuver. About 12 seconds before touchdown, roughly 66 feet (20 meters) above the surface, the descent stage lowers the rover on a set of cables about 21 feet (6.4 meters) long. The rover unstows its mobility system, locking its legs and wheels into landing position. As soon as the rover senses that its wheels have touched the ground, it cuts the cables connecting it to the descent stage. This frees the descent stage to fly off to make its own uncontrolled landing on the surface, a safe distance away from Perseverance.
Perseverance Touches Down on Mars (Illustration)
Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

How to Watch

Special Perseverance coverage is scheduled to start at 12:30 PM ET with a live stream for students. Prior to the landing, NASA will be airing a live chat starting at 1 PM ET, with landing coverage starting at 2 PM ET. You can catch it all on NASA TV, which is available on NASA’s official YouTube channel.

You can also access NASA TV via a variety of streaming platforms and services, including devices from Roku, Apple, and Amazon. You can also tune in on Hulu.

Featured image: NASA/JPL-Caltech