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NASA’s Perseverance nears Mars while UAE sends first photo

Hope’s first photo from Mars. Credit: WAM

Luxembourg, 16 February 2021. – Getting closer: While NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is nearing the Red Planet, the United Arab Emirate’s Hope mission sent a first picture.

Perseverance’s touchdown on Mars is scheduled for Thursday, 18 February, the U.S. space agency said. NASA will provide live coverage of the landing on its TV channel and its website.

During landing, the rover will plunge through the thin Martian atmosphere at about 20,000 km/h. A parachute and powered descent will slow the rover down to about 3 km/h, NASA said. During what is known as the sky crane maneuver, the descent stage will lower the rover on three cables to land softly on six wheels at Jezero Crater.

Perseverance is also carrying a technology experiment – the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter – that will attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.

To celebrate Perseverance’s landing, the Empire State Building in New York will light its tower red on Tuesday. Other sites in the U.S. doing the same are the airport in L.A. and buildings along the Chicago skyline, such as the Adler Planetarium. NASA invites cities around the country and world to participate in “lighting the town red.”

In the meantime, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Hope probe has successfully entered the Red Planet’s orbit last week – after a seven-month long journey of more than 493 million kilometres – and now sent its first image of the Red Planet back to Earth.

The UAE made history on Tuesday, as the first Arab nation and the fifth in the world, to reach Mars after Hope entered the Red Planet’s orbit. The last phase of the probe’s journey is set to begin in April 2020, WAM news agency reported.

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