Space giant Nasa is gearing up to land a car-sized machine on the surface of Mars, with the entire operation being streamed live for your viewing pleasure.
The Perseverance rover will have to suffer "seven minutes of terror" as it plummets through the thin Martian atmosphere before finally reaching the surface of Mars.
The rover has endured a seven month, 470 million kilometre journey from Earth, and is carrying sophisticated instruments that will look for evidence of past life on the red planet.
Here's how you can watch the event live from the UK:
What time is the rover landing?
A landing that is seven months in the making, the Perseverance rover originally embarked on this trip from Cape Canaveral, Florida, seven months ago.
According to Nasa the rover is scheduled to touch down on the Red Planet at 8:55pm GMT.
It will be impossible to determine whether the landing has been successful until the first signal pinged from the Martian surface is received at mission control on Earth.
It takes roughly 11 minutes for radio signals to travel from Mars to Earth.
If all goes to plan, this means the first pictures that have been captured by the rover will be available to view by 9:06pm GMT.
How to watch the landing
Nasa are hosting coverage of the final furlong of the mission as the rover makes its final step towards Mars.
The stream begins on Thursday at 7:15pm GMT. You'll be able to view the entire thing for free on Nasa's official YouTube channel.
Mars has all we need to create oxygen, food and medicine using bacteria, study suggests
If you can't watch the event or access YouTube, Nasa's verified Twitter page will provide minute-by-minute live commentary of the landing.
The main accounts to keep tabs on are Nasa's main Twitter page, as well as official accounts dedicated to the Perseverance rover and Mars.
What is the Perseverance rover?
After a long seven-months, Nasa's mars Perseverance rover approaches the final stretch of its mission from Earth.
The plan is for the rover to emit a radio alert as it breaks into the thin Martian atmosphere, and by the time that signal reaches mission control on Earth some 127million miles (204million km) away, Perseverance will already have landed on the Red Planet.
It is expected to take the rover seven minutes to descend from the top of the Martian atmosphere to the planet’s surface.
Elon Musk rates chances of next SpaceX Starship not exploding like previous launches
The final descent has been dubbed "the seven minutes of terror" by the rover's engineers. Al Chen, head of the JPL descent and landing team, described the final stage of the operation the most critical and most dangerous part of the £1.6billion ($2.7billion) mission.
Chen told the press: “Success is never assured, and that’s especially true when we’re trying to land the biggest, heaviest and most complicated rover we’ve ever built to the most dangerous site we’ve ever attempted to land at.”
Comet that wiped out dinosaurs travelled 186bn miles before being 'pinballed' by Jupiter
The importance behind this mission is huge, with the Perseverance rover potentially paving the way for scientists to determine conclusively whether life has existed beyond Earth, while aiding in the planning of eventual human missions to Mars.
The rover's success rides on the inflation of a giant parachute to deployment of a jet-powered “sky crane” that will descend to a safe landing spot and hover above the surface while lowering the rover to the ground on a tether.
Chen said: “Perseverance has to do this all on her own, we can’t help it during this period.”
The main aim of the mission is to search for any signs of microbial life that may have been present on Mars over billions of years ago.
To do this, power tools will drill samples from Martian rock before sealing them in built-in tubes to return to Earth for deeper analysis.
If successful, they will be the first such specimens ever collected by humans from the surface of another planet.
Source: Read Full Article