Spacecraft aiming to land on Mars have skipped past the planet, burned up on entry and smashed into the surface. On Thursday, NASA will attempt its hardest Martian touchdown yet, landing an unmanned spacecraft to search for signs of life. (Feb. 17)
LORI GLAZE: I'm getting so excited. We're now just a little over 26 hours away from touching down on the surface of Mars. And I was just thinking this morning, remembering back to the launch back in July, and that exciting moment when Perseverance and Ingenuity began this incredible journey from Earth to Mars. And now we're here just six months later. Ready for that final leg of the journey to put us on the surface of Mars so that we can really begin the overall objective of this mission, which is to really do the exploration of Jezero Crater.
MATT WALLACE: We're going to ballistically approach that planet at about 12,000 miles an hour. And the trick we have to perform is to slow down to just a couple of miles an hour so that we can gently touch the vehicle down on the surface, and safely do so. That all has to happen in about seven minutes. And it all has to happen autonomously. Perseverance really has to fight her way down to the surface on her own.