The Perseverance Rover Will Encounter ‘Seven Minutes If Terror’

Image Credit – BBC


NASA has released an animation video of the latest rover’s landing process on Mars on 18th February.

The one-tonne Perseverance rover is sent to a crater called Jezero, where it will search for life. But to execute the task the first thing is to do is a safe touchdown.

A term called ‘Seven Minutes of Terror’ is referred to as the sequence of maneuvers that is needed to land on Mars. There is a specific reason for the so-called ‘Terror’.

There are too many things to look after while making the big and expensive hole on the Red Planet. The available time is frighteningly short and everything has to go right.

The best part of the mission is that it’s all autonomous. The distance between the Earth and Mars is approximately 209 million kilometers or 130 million miles. Every action that is shown in the animation video will be conducted by onboard computers.

More than 100 kilometers above the red planet the rover will start experiencing the first wisp of Mar’s atmosphere. At this point, the rover will be secured in a capsule and traveling at a speed of 20,000km per hour.

The descent system of the rover has to perform a crucial task where it has to reduce its velocity to less than 1 meter per second at the surface. The process has to be done within a little more than 400 seconds.

It gets super-hot in the Martian air with more than 1,000 degrees Celsius. So the heat shield plays a major role here. However, the drag in the air helps to reduce the speed naturally.

By the time the capsule deploys its supersonic parachute from its back shell, the speed has to reduce to 1,200 kilometers per hour.

The Perseverance rover will glide with 21.5 meters-wide parachute for approximately one minute to scrub the entry speed further.

At an altitude of 2 kilometers, the rover and its ‘Skycrane’ will be detached from its back shell while moving at the speed of 100 meters per second.

Eight rocket engines on the cradle will ignite to keep the Perseverance rover hovering just above the surface. Nylon chords will be attached to safely lower the multi-billion dollar project.

Since it is not a full-proof safe landing, additional sensors are attached to the rover. When it senses contact the cables will be detached or else it will be dragged by the ‘Skycrane’ as it glides forward to a safe distance.

The navigation tools are upgraded and an advanced system has been installed then the last Mars rover by NASA, named Curiosity, which was made 8 years ago.

The time of the Touchdown is expected in the late afternoon, the local time on Mars and 21:00 GMT on Earth.

The radio signals take roughly 700 seconds to reach from Mars to Earth. So NASA will be depending on the radio signals to find out the survival of the rover.


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