Blog: Entry, Descent, and Landing Team Takes Over

In this illustration of its descent to Mars, the spacecraft containing NASA’s Perseverance rover slows down using the drag generated by its motion in the Martian atmosphere. Hundreds of critical events must execute perfectly and exactly on time for the rover to land on Mars safely on Feb. 18, 2021. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The team of engineers that piloted NASA’s Mars 2020 spacecraft, with the Perseverance rover and NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter inside, during the cruise from Earth to the Red Planet has handed over the reins to the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) team. 

The spacecraft is expected to hit the top of the Martian atmosphere at around 3:48 p.m. EST (12:48 p.m. PST) and touch down at around 3:55 p.m. EST (12:55 p.m. PST). Many engineers refer to the time it takes to land on Mars as the “seven minutes of terror.” Not only is the choreography of EDL complex, but the time delay involved in communicating with Earth means that the spacecraft has to accomplish this choreography all by itself.  

NASA is currently hosting live coverage of landing on NASA TV and YouTube. More information about how to watch these streams is on the mission’s watch online page. Share photos of you and your loved ones watching landing with the hashtag #CountdownToMars. 

The latest spacecraft status can be found on the mission update page