NASA's newest Mars car will touch down on the Red Planet less than 100 days from now. The life-hunting Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, which launched on July 30, is scheduled to land inside the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater on the afternoon of Feb. 18, 2021. The home stretch will be busy for the car-size robot's handlers.
"While we call the six-and-a-half-month trip from Earth to Mars 'cruise, I assure you there is not much croquet going on at the lido deck," mission project manager John McNamee, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said in a statement. Perseverance, the centerpiece of NASA's $2.7 billion Mars 2020 mission, will employ its predecessor's landing strategy, the Curiosity rover.
Perseverance will use its advanced instrument suite for hunting for signs of ancient Mars life in Jezero, which harbored a lake and river delta billions of years ago. The rover will also collect and cache samples for a future return to Earth and demonstrate technologies that could aid future exploration of the Red Planet. Two other Mars missions are also scheduled to arrive at the Red Planet in February 2021