BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — A Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate will get much of the credit or much of the blame as NASA prepares to land its latest rover on the surface of Mars.
The rover is named Perseverance and was launched from Florida last summer. Perseverance will perform a complex landing maneuver on Thursday afternoon.
NASA's Al Chen went to MIT and is in charge of EDL which stands for entry, descent, and landing.
"Landing is the most critical and dangerous part of the mission, we just can't guarantee success," said Chen.
The rover will be traveling 12,000 miles per hour on approach and will slow through the atmosphere and deploy a massive parachute.
Chen calls the landing tricky and says the parachute's snaps open in about .6 seconds, while going almost Mach 2.
The landing system is smart enough to detect the safest landing zone inside the Jezero Crater, if Chen and his team got the math right.
Perseverance will spend the next 2 years researching the red planet.
WBZ NewsRadio's Rory O'Neill reports