Watch NASA’s Mars landing live tonight at 7:15PM

  • NASA's Perseverence rover is scheduled to touch down on the red planet tonight, and you can watch the mission live from 7:15PM GMT.

    If there's one thing about space exploration that's really captured our imaginations in recent years, it's definitely the search for life on Mars. Our nearest planetary neighbour is a barren world today battered by radiation and with dry dust as far as the eye can see, but evidence points to it having liquid oceans in the distant past.

    The Perseverence rover will be touching down on Mars tonight before beginning its mission to find evidence of life on the red planet. It will be taking samples of and soil rocks from areas that could have supported microbial life billions of years ago, drilling core samples from the planet, and testing technology to extract oxygen from the carbon dioxide in the planet's atmosphere.

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    But what do we mean when we talk about "life on Mars" and what exactly is the rover searching for? The surface of Mars is likely too hostile for life to survive due to intense UV radiation, as the atmosphere on Mars is 95% carbon dioxide and is so thin that it doesn't block much from the sun. Earth not only has a thick atmosphere and protective ozone layer but also a strong magnetic field that deflects solar winds.

    It's believed that Mars once did have a magnetic field and had surface oceans about 3.8 billion years ago, and that its atmosphere and surface water were stripped away by solar winds as the planet's core cooled and its magnetic field disappeared. We're not likely to find actual living microorganisms on the surface today, but we could find the fossilised evidence of life that existed back then.

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    Perseverence is similar in design to the Curiosity Mars rover, but with some key differences. It has autonomous self-driving tech that will let it function with less instruction from Earth, and it will be able to extract in-tact core samples for retrieval by a later mission. It also carries 19 separate cameras and will be able to beam back ultra high-resolution photos of Mars, and several new experiments.

    The rover will officially touch down on the surface of Mars at 8:55PM GMT, but the show starts at 7:15PM tonight. The event will be streamed live on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and even, and is expected to be watched by millions of space fans around the world. You can watch it live here:

    Source: NASA, Header Image (c) NASA

    About the author

    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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