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In just over a month, on February 18, 2021, the American rover Perseverance will come screaming through the thin atmosphere of Mars at a speed of over 12,000 miles per hour to hopefully land successfully in Jezero Crater.
The map to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was released last week by the Perseverance science team and shows the landing ellipse in that crater. It also shows the much larger landing ellipses of previous landers/rovers. As they noted,
As landing technology improves and these landing ellipses shrink, missions can aim for more precise landings, opening up new areas of Mars to explore.
Perseverance takes it two steps further than previous missions. First, it uses a new algorithm to time its parachute deployment based on distance to its target rather than vehicle velocity. This shrinks the landing ellipse to 4.8 miles by 4.1 miles (7.7 kilometers by 6.6 kilometers). Second, the rover uses maps stored in its memory to avoid landing hazards within that smaller ellipse during its propulsive descent phase. This allows Perseverance to target safe landing locations within Jezero Crater. The rover is set to land on Feb. 18, 2021.
Improvements in interplanetary ...