A NASA rover called Perseverance is set to land on Mars tonight and start looking for signs of life.
Perseverance launched in July and is expected to touch down on Mars shortly before 9 pm tonight.
Our @NASAPersevere rover will search for signs of ancient microbial life on Mars. But where are the best places to look? What instruments will it use, & how will @NASAAstrobio experts assess any evidence? Dive into the science as we #CountdownToMars: https://t.co/FRUYqNQW1E pic.twitter.com/YfT4xALxTK
— NASA (@NASA) February 18, 2021
After landing, it will then start exploring the red planet, collecting rock samples and looking for signs of ancient life.
NASA says Perseverance is landing in a place with a high potential for finding these signs of past microbial life.
The rover will also be collecting important data about the geology and Mars' past climate conditions.
Understanding these will give scientists a richer sense of what the planet was like in its distant past.
Tomorrow I arrive at Jezero Crater, a dry lakebed on Mars. I’ll chart a path along its ancient shoreline, to see if it’s like similar places on Earth. I’m looking for rocks that tell a story of past microbial life. https://t.co/5RCEWdNc9b #CountdownToMars pic.twitter.com/NsNJjXHPbu
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 17, 2021
Irish Aeronautical Engineer Dr Norah Patten believes tonight's landing will be a significant moment:
Dr Patten says "It's a huge feat of engineering, technology and science to actually send something to Mars and land it.
She says "Perseverance is the first step to around return mission" to earth.