WATCH: NASA Celebrates Perseverance Rover Landing With Mars Student Challenge

By  //  January 11, 2021

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NASA will attempt to land the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover in February

ABOVE VIDEO: Join NASA’s Mission to Mars Student Challenge.

(NASA) – On Feb. 18, NASA will attempt to land the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on the surface of the Red Planet, and you can join the excitement with NASA’s Mission to Mars Student Challenge.

Classrooms, informal education groups, families, and individuals can design, build, and land their own spacecraft – just like NASA scientists and engineers do.

And for extra inspiration, there’s the handy Mars 2020 STEM toolkit filled with activities, videos, and more.

“We want to reach every classroom in America and beyond with the Mission to Mars Student Challenge,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

“We want to share not just the thrills of the Mars 2020 Perseverance landing itself but also of what goes into making achievements like these possible. We hope that students will be inspired by the Perseverance mission and one day become our next generation of NASA scientists and engineers.”

About the size of an SUV, Perseverance is carrying the small Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on its belly.

While the helicopter is an experiment designed to attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet, it doesn’t play a role in the science that Perseverance will be conducting.

A key goal of the rover’s mission is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life.

Perseverance will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect samples of Martian rock as well as regolith, which is broken rock and dust.

To do that, the rover first must land, and landing on Mars is hard. Only about half of all attempts by the world’s space agencies have succeeded – all of them by NASA. The last time a rover landed on the Red Planet was in 2012, with NASA’s Curiosity rover.

Like Curiosity, Perseverance must survive the “seven minutes of terror” – a fiery trip through the Martian atmosphere using a heat shield, parachute, and rockets. During the sky crane maneuver, the descent stage will lower the rover onto Mars with nylon cables. (NASA image)

Like Curiosity, Perseverance must survive the “seven minutes of terror” – a fiery trip through the Martian atmosphere using a heat shield, parachute, and rockets. During the sky crane maneuver, the descent stage will lower the rover onto Mars with nylon cables.

But this latest landing involves an even higher level of difficulty: The most sophisticated rover ever built, Perseverance is the biggest and heaviest to attempt a Mars landing. And it will be testing new technologies as it touches down.

Take part in a worldwide “teachable moment” and bring students along for the ride as NASA lands the Perseverance rover on Mars on February 18.

A science communicator and host of “Emily’s Wonder Lab” on Netflix, Emily Calandrelli, shares how you can join the adventure with your students.

More About the Challenge

By participating in the Mission to Mars Student Challenge, you can land your own rover, too. Activities include:

A flexible, guided five-week education plan for elementary, middle, and high school students with standards-aligned STEM lessons and activities from NASA.

A weekly newsletter with links to tips and resources related to the mission phase of the week.

Video conversations with mission scientists and engineers highlighting how their work relates to what students are learning – plus, ideas to kick-start the weekly challenge. (NASA image)

Video conversations with mission scientists and engineers highlighting how their work relates to what students are learning – plus, ideas to kick-start the weekly challenge.

Opportunities to participate in Q&As with mission experts and to submit student questions and work that could be featured during NASA broadcasts leading up to and on landing day.

With the STEM toolkit in hand, you can learn more about the mission and have some fun while you’re at it.

You can watch the landing events broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s website, starting at 2:15 p.m. EST (11:15 a.m. PST) on Feb. 18, in English and Spanish. Touch down will take place at about 3:55 p.m. EST (12:55 p.m. PST).

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