Less than a day after its historic landing on Mars, NASA’s Perseverance Rover returned a video of its touchdown. According to NASA, “The real footage in this video was captured by several cameras that are part of the rover’s entry, descent, and landing suite. The views include a camera looking down from the spacecraft’s descent stage (a kind of rocket-powered jet pack that helps fly the rover to its landing site), a camera on the rover looking up at the descent stage, a camera on the top of the aeroshell (a capsule protecting the rover) looking up at that parachute, and a camera on the bottom of the rover looking down at the Martian surface. The audio embedded in the video comes from the mission control call-outs during entry, descent, and landing.”
“This video of Perseverance’s descent is the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science. “It should become mandatory viewing for young women and men who not only want to explore other worlds and build the spacecraft that will take them there, but also want to be part of the diverse teams achieving all the audacious goals in our future.”
The video begins approximately 230 seconds after Perseverance entered Mars’ atmosphere at 12,500 mph (20,100 kph). It captures the parachute (largest ever sent to Mars) being deployed and the heat shields dropping off. And then you can see the descent stage, with Perseverance attached, hanging from the back shell and parachute.
“The rover’s free-flying “jetpack,” which decelerates using rocket engines and then lowers the rover on cables to the surface – breaks free, its eight thrusters engaging to put distance between it and the now-discarded back shell and the parachute. Then, 80 seconds and 7,000 feet (2,130 meters) later, the cameras capture the descent stage performing the sky crane maneuver over the landing site – the plume of its rocket engines kicking up dust and small rocks that have likely been in place for billions of years.” says NASA’s website
The rovers finally lands on the the surface at 1.61 mph (2.6 kph), separates from the descent stage, which then flies away.
The featured still image of the rover was taken from that footage, which is still being relayed to Earth and processed. Perseverance’s cameras capture images in colour, unlike other rovers in the past.
Also attached to the rover is a microphone, which obtained sounds from Jezero Crater on Feb. 20, 2021. About 10 seconds into the 60-second recording, a Martian breeze is audible for a few seconds, as are mechanical sounds of the rover operating on the surface.
Here are the 1st Sounds from Mars – includes rover self-noise. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
And this is without the rover self-noise, where you can hear the breeze.
What a time to be alive!