Here’s how to be part of today’s Mars landing

In this photo provided by NASA, members of NASA's Perseverance rover team react in mission control after receiving confirmation the spacecraft successfully touched down on Mars, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The landing of the six-wheeled vehicle marks the third visit to Mars in just over a week. Two spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates and China swung into orbit around the planet on successive days last week. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)
In this photo provided by NASA, members of NASA's Perseverance rover team react in mission control after receiving confirmation the spacecraft successfully touched down on Mars, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The landing of the six-wheeled vehicle marks the third visit to Mars in just over a week. Two spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates and China swung into orbit around the planet on successive days last week. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP) ((NASA/Bill Ingalls) For copyright and restrictions refer to - http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/guidelines/index.html)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After hurtling through space for the better part of six months, NASA’s rover Perseverance will finally make a historic landing on Mars.

(Watch the live stream by playing the video above)

During landing, the rover will plunge through the thin Martian atmosphere at more than 12,000 mph (about 20,000 kph). A parachute and powered descent will slow the rover down to about 2 mph (3 kph). During what is known as the sky crane maneuver, the descent stage will lower the rover on three cables to land softly on six wheels at Jezero Crater.

Perseverance also is carrying a technology experiment – the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter – that will attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.

“If there’s one thing we know, it’s that landing on Mars is never easy,” said NASA Associate Administrator for Communications Marc Etkind. “But as NASA’s fifth Mars rover, Perseverance has an extraordinary engineering pedigree and mission team.”

A key science objective of Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and will be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and sediment for later return to Earth. Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples and bring them back to Earth for in-depth analysis.

Here are ways you can participate and enjoy this historic landing:

Watch and participate

Connect with like-minded space enthusiasts, receive a NASA social media badge, ask questions, and take part in other virtual activities by signing up for the Perseverance Rover Virtual NASA Social event.

NASA also will provide a virtual guest experience for members of the public during the landing, with notifications about mission updates, curated mission resources, and a virtual passport stamp available after landing.

Stay connected and let people know you’re following the mission on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Join the conversation, ask questions, and get answers online by using #CountdownToMars.

Follow and tag these accounts:

Learning opportunities

Design, build, and land your own spacecraft — just like NASA scientists and engineers do. Join NASA’s Mission to Mars Student Challenge, where classrooms, families and individuals will be able to participate in landing week question-and-answer sessions with mission experts and submit questions and work that could be featured in NASA broadcasts leading up to and on landing day. A Mars 2020 STEM toolkit also is available, with stories on the students who named Perseverance and Ingenuity, opportunities to code your own Mars exploration games, and more.

Interactive experiences

You also can try out a virtual photo booth that allows you to pose next to the Perseverance rover, listen to the differences between sounds on Mars and Earth, and check out other interactive experiences on the mission’s website.

Send your name to Mars

Perseverance is carrying three dime-size chips with 11 million names submitted by people all over the world. Anyone who missed the chance to send their name on Perseverance can sign up to send their name on a future Mars mission by clicking here.

Lighting towns red around the world

The Los Angeles International Airport gateway pylons will glow red from sundown on Wednesday, Feb. 17, through sunrise Friday, Feb. 19, in recognition of the Perseverance mission. Other sites in the U.S. recognizing the upcoming landing include select buildings along the Chicago skyline, such as the Adler Planetarium. NASA invites cities around the country and world to participate in “lighting the town red.”

Programming schedule

In addition to social media coverage, NASA TV will air a number of events leading up to, including, and following the landing. Members of the public may ask questions on social media during the events using #CountdownToMars. The following events currently are scheduled to air live (all times Eastern) on Thursday, Feb. 18. Please check the NASA TV schedule for the latest updates:

  • 2:15 p.m. – Live landing Broadcast on the NASA TV Public Channel and online. In addition, an uninterrupted clean feed of cameras from inside JPL Mission Control, with mission audio only, will be available starting at 2 p.m. on the NASA TV Media Channel, and at JPL’s Raw YouTube channel.
  • A 360-degree livestream of the Mars landing from inside mission control, including landing commentary, will be available at the JPL’s main YouTube channel.
  • 2:30 p.m. – “Juntos perseveramos,” the Spanish-language live landing commentary show, will air on NASA en Español’s YouTube channel.
  • Approximately 3:55 p.m. – Expected Perseverance touchdown on Mars
  • No earlier than 5:30 p.m. – Post-landing news conference