Paris, 12 February 2021. – Countdown on the Red Planet: the landing of NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance will be supported by ESA, the European Space Agency said.
NASA’s Mars rover is due to land on 18 February. In order to communicate with the Earth, the rover will use existing spacecraft orbiting Mars to relay images and other data back to Earth and pass on the commands from engineers in the other direction, ESA said.
Two ESA Mars orbiters – the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Mars Express – are supporting the landing. TGO will start to relay data from Perseverance to Earth right after the landing while Mars Express will monitor the local conditions at the landing site, the Jezero Crater.
TGO arrived at Mars in October 2016 and is conducting a detailed study of the atmosphere, mapping signs of water below the planet’s surface. The orbiter is operated from Darmstadt, Germany.