LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- In July, NASA's Perseverance rover launched for Mars. It has been cruising space for seven months and is scheduled to touch down on the Red Planet on Thursday.

NASA's Perseverance rover will land on Mars this week. Here's what to expect

Perseverance, NASA's most sophisticated rover to date, is expected to land on the surface of Mars on Thursday, February 18, around 3:55 p.m. ET.

The rover will search for signs of ancient life and study climate and geology.

The spacecraft also has Ingenuity on board, the first helicopter that will fly on another planet.

But before all that happens, Perseverance must pass the infamous seven minutes of terror: landing on Mars without help from NASA teams on Earth.

Two UNLV geoscientists are playing a critical role in the mission. Libby Hausrath will choose which rock and soil samples Perseverance will transport back to earth. Arya Udry will help the perseverance rover study Martian rocks.

"It's been a dream since I've been really very young. I work on Martian samples and Martian meteorite which is already very exciting," said Udry. "And being able to do geology directly on Mars with a huge team of scientists and engineers is really a dream come true."

"This is my first Mars mission, I have worked with data from other missions from the Mars exploration rovers and the MSL curiosity rover," said Hausrath.  "So I've worked with results but this will be the first time when I'm participating and helping make decisions for the rover."

According to UNLV, MIT is the only other university to have two participating scientists selected for the Perseverance rover.

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