Watch Video From NASA’s Perseverance Rover As It Lands on Mars

Watch Video From NASA’s Perseverance Rover As It Lands on Mars

NASA released first-of-its-kind video today of the Mars Perseverance rover as it descended through the Mars atmosphere to a safe landing on the surface. The first panoramic image of Perseverance’s new home in Jezero Crater and audio of a wind gust were also released.

Perseverance is the ninth NASA spacecraft to land on Mars and the fifth rover, but it is the first to be equipped with video cameras to show events as they unfold during descent. It also has microphones to record audio.

Perseverance and its cousin, Curiosity, which landed in 2012, used a complex “Skycrane” system to lower the rover to the ground.  Until today, the entry-descent-and-landing (EDL) sequence — dubbed the Seven Minutes of Terror — has been seen only as an animations created by JPL.  Now NASA has actual video of events as they took place last Thursday.

JPL’s Matt Wallace, Deputy Project Manager for Perseverance, explained he got the idea of putting commercial off-the-shelf sports cameras on Perseverance after buying one for his daughter for her gymnastics training. After seeing the camera’s-eye view of her doing a backflip, he felt as if he was doing it, too, and realized this would provide unparalleled insight into the EDL sequence.

Two cameras were placed on the back shell to look up while the parachute inflates, one on the descent stage (“Skycrane”) to look down at the rover while attached to it with three bridles and a data cable, and two on the rover — one looking up at the descent stage and one looking down toward the surface.

Source: JPL

The descent stage separated from the rover as the wheels approached the ground and flew away, crashing to the surface at a safe distance.

The cameras are not designed to survive the harsh environment on Mars, particularly the cold temperatures, so it is not clear how much longer they will operate.  The rover has a number of other cameras for its scientific work.

NASA also released the first panoramic image, combined from six individual images, of Perseverance’s new home taken with navigation cameras on the rover.

NASA also put two microphones on Perseverance.  One was intended to record sounds during EDL, but did not work then although it is now the rover is on the ground. Another is elsewhere on the rover.  In the recording released today, a wind gust can be heard.

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