By CBS3 Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — CBS3 had a special guest Thursday to talk specifically about NASA’s mission to Mars. NASA’s Perseverance Rover is preparing for landing on Thursday.

Touch down on the red planet is scheduled to take place a little before 4 p.m.

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Mitch Schulte, a Perseverance program scientist, joined Eyewitness News This Morning from College Park, Maryland to talk more about this very exciting mission to Mars.

Perseverance is the first rover to land on Mars since Curiosity back in 2021. Schulte says this rover is special because it’s been outfitted with all new instruments to really look in fine detail at the surface of Mars and the materials there.

NASA will also be looking at the rock record specifically for signs that ancient life that might have been left behind. They will also be collecting samples of the Martian surface to bring back and examine in laboratories here in the United States.

“It’s going to a place called Jezero Crater, place real ancient terrains on Mars and about 3 and half billion years ago contained a liquid water lake and into that lake was deposited a river delta, much like you see in the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi River. So it’s a great pace to go look for this evidence of past life,” Schulte said.

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Rover landing can be very tricky and Schulte said he is “nervous but confident.”

“Very nervous but confident that they’ve built the best system possible for getting this rover to the surface. It’s the same system in principle, the entry descent and landing system we used to get Curiosity on the grounds back in 2021, so we’re nervous but you know it worked before and they’ve made some improvements and so we’re very confident,” Schulte said.

He says the search for evidence that previous life might have left behind is a really exciting scientific study.

You can watch the broadcast live on NASA TV or NASA.gov. Coverage starts at about 2:15 p.m. this afternoon and the landing is expected to happen right before 4 p.m.

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WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW.