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The landing of NASA's next Mars rover is now just days away.

The car-size Perseverance rover, the centerpiece of NASA's $2.7 billion Mars 2020 mission, will hunt for signs of ancient life, collect and cache samples for future return to Earth and help demonstrate a variety of new exploration technologies, among other tasks.

But before it can get started on any of that groundbreaking work, Perseverance must ace its touchdown inside Mars' Jezero Crater on Feb. 18. There's no guarantee that the rover will survive this harrowing ordeal; over the years, just 40% of all Mars surface missions have landed successfully.

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That depressing figure is skewed by a lot of failures in the first few decades of the Space Age, however. NASA's recent Red Planet track record is quite encouraging (knock on wood), and Mars 2020 will employ a proven landing strategy — the "sky crane" technique used successfully by its predecessor, the Curiosity rover, which touched down in August 2012 and remains active today.

Here's a brief rundown of the Mars 2020 mission and its upcoming entry, descent and landing (EDL) operations to get you ready for the big day.

https://www.space.com/mars-rover-perseverance-landing-explained