If you want to check in on NASA’s Perseverance rover, launched this week on its journey to Mars, there’s a NASA simulator that you can use to follow along with the mission’s progress.
Using NASA’s Eyes software, you can see a simulated view of the Mars 2020 spacecraft in real time as it travels on its journey. And if you zoom out to the Terran system and solar system views, you can see where the craft is in relation to the rest of the solar system, with the orbits of the planets including Mars and Earth shown.
The map also shows where other NASA missions are located as well, so in the Terran system, you can see objects such as the planet-hunting telescope TESS. If you zoom out even further to view the inner solar system, you can see the position of objects like the Parker Solar Probe, the Bennu spacecraft, and the metal asteroid and target of a future mission, Psyche. Clicking on the names of these objects or the planets will bring up statistics about each one and links of where to find more information.
If you continue to zoom out even further, you can see where the sun and our solar system are located within the Milky Way — and you also get some idea of just how large the distances between stellar systems are.
According to NASA, Perseverance has approximately 290 million miles still to go on its journey to Mars, which is expected to take until February 2021.
There were some concerns about the spacecraft on the day of its launch as NASA experienced a minor communications issue and the craft automatically went into safe mode as it experienced cold temperatures while in the shadow of the Earth. But the craft is now out of safe mode and operating as normal, and the communications were able to be established as required using the Deep Space Network. So Perseverance is healthy and happy and everything looks on track for its journey to Mars.
“With safe mode exit, the team is getting down to the business of interplanetary cruise,” Mars 2020 deputy project manager Matt Wallace of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a blog post. “Next stop, Jezero Crater.”