On Thursday, February 18, for the first time in nearly a decade, a rover will be landing on Mars.

The most recent rover to touch down on the Red Planet was ‘Curiosity’ in 2012. The Insight Mars lander reached the planet in 2018. (A ‘Lander’ stays stationary after landing on a surface, while a ‘Rover’ moves and explores)

On Thursday afternoon, its ‘brother,’ Perseverance will be landing roughly 2,300 miles from Curiosity’s landing site in 2012. (Curiosity has since traveled 14 miles since landing)

There have been four successful Mars rovers: Sojourner landed on Independence Day 1997, Spirit made contact three weeks before Opportunity in January, 2004, and Curiosity in 2012. Only Curiosity is still in operation.

Perseverance will land at 2:55 p.m. CT. NASA’s live broadcast will begin at 1:15 p.m. CT.

You can watch it LIVE on NASA's YouTube channel.

Perseverance blasted into space in July 2020. This mission will be historic for many reasons but what really grabs my attention is that this rover will also be bringing along a helicopter, called ‘Ingenuity.” It will test flying on Mars for the first time. The atmosphere on the planet is very thin, about 1% compared to the Earth's. Ingenuity weighs about four pounds and has two blades that measure about four feet long. Those blades will spin at a rate of about 2,400 revolutions per minute.

After traveling nearly 300 million miles from Earth, the rover will be landing at the 28-mile wide Jezero Crater. It’s believed that this crater at one time contained a deep lake about the size of Lake Tahoe. The mission plan calls for Perseverance to land at the rim of the crater.

The six-wheeled rover is also equipped with two microphones, which will break new ground as well. Two previous missions had landers equipped with microphones, but neither returned any data.

It also has a total of 19 cameras attached to its body. Read more about its mission HERE.

China will be landing a rover, Tianwen-1, on Mars in May or June. It is currently orbiting Mars after being launched from Earth in July 2020.

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