'7 minutes of terror': How to watch Mars landing online
The Mars Perseverance rover has been hurtling through space for the last 6½ months and is scheduled to touch down on Thursday afternoon in an ancient basin north of the Martian equator.
Perseverance is the fifth roving spacecraft NASA has sent to the Red Planet and the most sophisticated. The car-size rover is equipped with 23 cameras, two microphones and even a mini helicopter.
Arizona State University has a key role in the mission with a team led by ASU professor Jim Bell in charge of a sophisticated camera system on the rover called Mastcam-Z.
Mars is so far away that NASA can't broadcast live photos and videos of the landing. However, viewers can follow the landing drama live through NASA commentary as the spacecraft starts the entry, descent and landing.
This is the riskiest part of the mission, known in NASA circles as the "seven minutes of terror." A parachute and rocket-powered structure help slow the craft from speeds of 12,000 mph, all without any human interaction during the tense final minutes.
“We’re entirely focused on one thing right now, which is a successful landing," said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science, in a Tuesday news conference.
Live commentary from NASA starts at 12:15 p.m. Arizona time (2:15 p.m. Eastern Time) with the key moments of the approach beginning at 1:38 p.m. Arizona time (3:38 p.m. ET). Landing is scheduled for 1:55 p.m. Arizona time (3:55 p.m. Eastern Time).
A Spanish-language landing commentary show will start at 12:30 p.m. Arizona time (2:30 p.m. ET) on NASA en Español’s YouTube channel.