Months after it left the Earth, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is now halfway through its journey to the Red Planet.
The Perseverance rover is still months away from landing on Mars but in a news release, NASA shared that it passed a major milestone this week, reaching the midway mark of its journey.
“At 1:40 p.m. Pacific Time (4:40 p.m. EDT) today, our spacecraft will have just as many miles in its metaphorical rearview mirror as it will out its metaphorical windshield,” navigator on the Perseverance rover mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Julie Kangas, said in the news release. “While I don’t think there will be cake, especially since most of us are working from home, it’s still a pretty neat milestone. Next stop, Jezero Crater.”
To be exact, at the time mentioned by Kangas, the Perseverance rover had travelled 146.3 million miles towards Mars, which NASA says is the exact same distance it will still have to travel to get to its destination.
It doesn’t mean, however, that Perseverance is halfway between Earth and Mars because it is following a curved trajectory, not a straight line. As Kangas explains in the news release, the rover is actually 26.6 million miles from the Earth and 17.9 million miles from Mars in a “straight line distance.”
In just a few more months, on Feb. 18, 2021, it will land in the Jezero Crater where it will search for signs of past life as well as other tasks including carrying space suit materials for future manned Mars missions.
For now, however, the team continues to work hard as the rover proceeds in its journey. This is because even if the rover is still on its way to the Red Planet, the mission team is keeping a close eye on it to make sure that all systems are nominal.
“If it is part of our spacecraft and electricity runs through it, we want to confirm it is still working properly following launch,” deputy chief engineer for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission, Keith Comeaux, said in the news release. “Between these checkouts – along with charging the rover’s and Mars Helicopter’s batteries, uploading files and sequences for surface operations, and planning for and executing trajectory correction maneuvers – our plate is full right up to landing.”
Those who want to keep tabs on the rover on its journey can do so using NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System, which lets anyone track the Perseverance rover’s location. Using this tool, users can see the rover’s location in real time and they can even customize how they want to experience the rover’s journey, with several viewing options including a spacecraft and 3D views.
This illustration depicts NASA’s Perseverance rover operating on the surface of Mars. Perseverance will land at the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater a little after 3:40 p.m. EST (12:40 p.m. PST) on Feb. 18, 2021. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Mars 2020, NASA, Rover, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Human mission to Mars, Jezero
World news – US – NASA’s Perseverance Rover Reaches Midway Mark In Journey To Mars