The latest NASA probe to Mars is set to land Thursday after a journey that began last July.
Perseverance’s entry into the Martian atmosphere was set to start at 3:55 p.m. EST, starting a seven-minute process that scientists hope will be successful. During the landing, NASA has no ability to control the probe.
The elaborate landing process involves parachutes, powered descent and a “sky crane,” which is expected to lower Perseverance onto the Martian surface using cables.
"I can tell you that Perseverance is operating perfectly right now, and that all systems are go for landing," Jennifer Trosper, a NASA deputy project manager for the rover mission, said during a press briefing Tuesday.
Perseverance is targeting a landing in Jezero Crater, which is believed to be an ancient lakebed. There, it will search for signs of ancient life.
The terrain around the landing site is rocky, making landing difficult, but NASA said the probe is up to the challenge.
“When the scientists take a look at a site like Jezero Crater, they see the promise, right?” said Al Chen, who is in charge of the entry, descent and landing team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, according to The Associated Press. “When I look at Jezero, I see danger. There’s danger everywhere.”
NASA has successfully landed eight of nine probes on Mars.
Perseverance is similar in appearance to other Mars rovers, but it carries a helicopter-type drone, Ingenuity, which will test if powered flight on Mars is possible.