How Long Did It Take Perseverance To Get To Mars?


We have always been fascinated by the red planet. Our never-ending quest to discover its secrets and solve its mysteries has resulted in the brightest of minds coming together and devising programs that successfully managed to put robotic rovers on the Martian surface.

For decades, the thirst for knowledge drove us to invent the best technologies that made journeying to Mars and other planets a less challenging task than our ancestors could have ever envisioned.

This article will answer the question—how long did it take Perseverance to get to Mars?

How Long Did It Take Perseverance to Get to Mars?

The entire duration of Perseverance’s (aka Percy) journey from Earth to Mars was nearly seven months. The rover took flight from Earth on November 28, 1964, and made its landing on February 18, 2021.

The entire mission was pre-planned carefully. There were several contingencies in place to ensure the landing was successful so that the rover could move forward with its Martian mission.

How Far Is Mars From Earth?

Before we dive into the duration it took the Mars rover to get to the planet, let’s cover some of the basics. Exactly, how far away is the red planet from our planet?

In the series of the planets in our solar system, Mars stands at the fourth position from the Sun. After Venus, this red planet is the next closest to us. However, the distance between the red planet and Earth is constantly changing as the planets revolve around the Sun. This is due to their elliptical orbit.

The closest ever for the two planets to be is when Earth is at its aphelion and Mars is at its perihelion. If this ever happens, in theory, there would only be a distance of 33.9 million miles between the two planets. However, this distance has never been recorded in history.

Instead, the record of the closest approach between the two planets was 34.8 million miles in 2003.

The distance between the two planets is the greatest when the two planets are farthest away from each other. This happens when they are on opposite sides of the Sun. In such an instance, there can be a distance of 250 million miles between them.

The distance can lessen when the Sun and Mars are on opposite sides of Earth. This instance of a close approach happens nearly every 26 months.

How Long Does It Take to Get to Mars?


Based on NASA’s calculation, nine months are required to make a straightforward trip to the red planet. In case you were calculating for a round trip, then you would need 21 months to get back home. This duration includes a three-month waiting period to ensure the two planets are properly aligned for the return trip.

However, the duration of the trip would vary based on several factors. Besides the distance between Earth and Mars, the type of spacecraft chosen, its propulsion system, and its itinerary for the mission also matter.

Is it a flyby mission, or will the craft land on the surface? Is it a manned or an unmanned spacecraft?

So far, we do not have an accurate representation of how long it would take a manned spacecraft to reach Mars since no one has ever attempted the trip. But we do have travel times for each successful landing of Mars rovers on the planet.

Why Is Determining Travel Time to Mars So Problematic?

Travel times are problematic to pinpoint because they vary due to the planets’ continuous motion around the Sun. Due to this, engineers have to map out ideal orbits. The calculation for ideal orbits involves distance and fuel efficiency. They have to estimate the position of the planet when the craft reaches it.

Before a spacecraft can enter the orbit of a new planet, it has to decelerate in order to avoid shooting off into space due to the high speed.

At present, it is more of a challenge to put humans on Mars than to send a robot to the Martian surface.

Mariner 4 was the first spacecraft to journey from our planet to the red planet. It took off from Earth on November 28, 1964, and successfully reached Mars on July 14, 1965.

This successful mission was soon followed by others. Mariner 9 was the first to enter Mar’s orbit in 1971. It completed its journey in 167 days. Since then, every mission to Mars has taken roughly 150 to 300 days.

How Long Did It Take Perseverance to Get to Mars?

How Long Did It Take Perseverance To Get To Mars?

Perseverance is NASA’s $2.7 billion robotic Martian rover that belongs to the agency’s Mars Exploration Program. This rover launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on July 30, 2020. At the time of its launch, it was accompanied by a robotic helicopter named Ingenuity.

The 2,260-pound rover’s mission is to explore the Martian surface and look for signs of ancient microbial life. Perseverance is decked up with state-of-the-art technology so that it can collect samples and carry them home on its return trip to Earth.

On February 18, 2021, Perseverance became the ninth spacecraft to successfully touchdown on the red planet. This was nearly seven months after its launch from Earth.

The exact time it takes for every journey depends on where the planets are positioned when the journey begins. How far apart Earth and Mars are from each other is constantly changing. Due to this, the duration of each journey can vary. It can be six months or eight months, depending on the above-mentioned factors.

Perseverance’s Journey from Earth to Mars

When the spacecraft launched from Earth, it had a speed of nearly 24,600 mph. During the length of its journey, the craft’s flight path was tweaked to ensure it was moving at the optimum speed and in the right direction for its arrival at the landing spot.

Fifteen days had lapsed after its launch when the first tweak was made. The tweaks were necessary fine-tuning procedures that were needed to ensure that craft entered the orbit at the right location for it to land inside the chosen landing spot.

Forty-five days before the craft’s landing, the team on Earth geared up for its entry phase and refined its flight path. Nine hours before landing, the engineers had the opportunity for one final tweak—a contingency maneuver.

This was a backup move in case an adjustment was required. It would involve changing the location of the craft’s entry into the Martian atmosphere.

At 3:48 PM ET, the rover had a speed of more than 12,000 mph. It was in the upper layer of the Martian atmosphere.

At exactly 3.55 PM ET, Perseverance touched down at 18, 4446°N 77, 4509°E. The rover’s landing spot was the Jezero Crater which sits in the Isidis Planitia region of the red planet.

Perseverance’s Mars Mission


The 1-ton rover’s main mission is to explore the Jezero Crater and find out whether life ever arose on the red planet. This has been the burning question of the agency’s Mars Exploration Program for years.

When the previous mission involving the Spirit and Opportunity rovers brought to light that liquid water was once present on Mars, the Curiosity rover discovered that the conditions on ancient Mars could have very well supported life. Now, it is Perseverance’s turn to build upon these discoveries and look for the signs of past life.

It has been decades since NASA’s last direct search for life on the red planet. The last mission which directly looked for signs of life on Mars involved the dual Viking landers. However, their search ended up with inconclusive results.

What Instruments Is Perseverance Carrying?

The six-wheeled rover is the size of an SUV. Though it is similar in design to Curiosity, it is more robust and can push through sun-blocking dust storms.

Perseverance is decked with all the tools necessary to aid in its search for microscopic life. It features two Raman spectrometers. One spectrometer is suited on the robotic arm called SHERLOC, and the other in a SuperCam.

The spectrometer will use UV light to determine the chemical composition of the rock or soil structure. They are quite capable of picking up on organic compounds. SuperCam is suited on the rover’s mast. It, too, features a laser that works on rocks that are at a distance.

Mounted on SHERLOC is a camera called PIXL. This camera is capable of seeing the finest of features. Science instruments like the Mastcam-Z and two color cameras that can zoom in and out rest atop the mast. They act as the rover’s eyes.

At the base of the rover is RIMFAX. This is a radar that is capable of detecting water up to a 10-meter range underneath the surface. Scientists think some of the planet’s ancient water soaked through the ground into underground water pockets. These pockets may potentially still host life.

Perseverance also has aboard a weather station named MEDA. The rover is powered by a carbon-dioxide extractor called MOXIE that converts atmospheric carbon dioxide into oxygen.

MOXIE will also help scientists determine whether it is possible for future astronauts to manufacture oxygen on the red planet to use it for breathing and as rocket fuel.

Travel Times for Past Missions to Mars

Mars Mission


Travel Time

Mariner 4 (flyby)


288 days

Mariner 6 (flyby)


155 days

Mariner 7 (flyby)


128 days

Mariner 9


168 days

Viking I


304 days

Viking II


333 days

Mars Global Surveyor


308 days

Mars Pathfinder


212 days

Mars Odyssey


200 days

Mars Express Orbiter


201 days

Mars Exploration Rover (Spirit)


208 days

Mars Exploration Rover (Opportunity)


201 days

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter


210 days

Phoenix Mars Lander


295 days

Mars Science Laboratory


254 days



307 days

Mars Orbiter Mission


322 days

Mars Insight Lander


205 days

Hope Orbiter


205 days

Tainwen-1 Orbiter/Zhurong Rover


202 days

Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover


204 days

Frequently Asked Questions

If a Spacecraft Was Travelling at the Speed of Light, How Long Would It Take to Reach Mars?

The speed at which light travels is about 186,282 miles per second. If a spacecraft was travelling at this speed, on average, it would take 751 seconds or 12.5 minutes to reach Mars from Earth or vice versa.

If Mars was at its farthest approach, it would take the craft 1,342 seconds or 22.4 minutes to complete its journey.

Is the Mars 2020 Mission Different from Past Missions? If So, How Is It Different?

Yes, the Mars 2020 mission involving the Perseverance rover is very different from past Mars missions. This is because the rover is equipped with technology that allows it to collect samples from the surface and store them in a cache.

It is part of the Mars Sample Return Campaign, which could potentially see a future mission returning these samples to Earth for further investigation.

How Was the Rover’s Name Chosen?

A nationwide essay contest played a major role in naming the Mars rover. Alex Mather, a seventh-grader from Springfield, Virginia, wrote the winning essay that led to the naming of the rover.

Perseverance was the latest to join the ranks of Mars rovers that were named by K-12 children. These include Curiosity, Sojourner, Opportunity and Spirit.

The Conclusion

The third robotic explorer to land on the red planet was the Perseverance rover. It took flight from our planet in November 2020 and touched base on the Martian surface in February 2021. The entire journey from launch to touchdown was completed in roughly seven months.

How long it takes a spacecraft to travel from Earth to Mars is contingent on several factors, such as the position of the planets in relation to each other, the type of propulsion system being used, etc.

Perseverance’s expected mission duration is to last a minimum of one Mars year, i.e., around 687 Earth days. On 1 August 2022, the robotic rover finished 515 sols on the red planet.

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