NASA Unveils Stunning Video from Mars Rover Landing on the Red Planet
March 4, 2021
NASA has released a spectacular bounty of new videos from its Perseverance Mars rover as it began its hair-raising landing on the surface of the red planet last week.
The video, shot from multiple cameras, captures the entire descent onto Mars, from the parachute inflation to its ultimate touchdown in the Jezero Crater on Feb. 18.
"This is the first time we've been able to actually capture an event like the landing of a spacecraft on Mars," Michael Watkins, the director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said in a news conference Monday. "We will learn something by looking at the performance of the vehicle in these videos. But a lot of it is also to bring you along on our journey, our touchdown to Mars, and of course, our surface mission as well. These are really amazing videos."
Over the weekend, engineers at the JPL in Pasadena, where Perseverance was built, downlinked 30 gigabytes of data from the rover, including 23,000 images and video frames.
On Monday, NASA released footage that features the 360-degree views from Perseverance of Mars' landscape. The agency also released the first audio recordings of sounds from Mars, which picked up both mechanical noises from the rover but also the utterances of a Martian breeze.
Perseverance, NASA's most sophisticated rover yet, will search for signs of ancient life on Mars. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.
Along with the unprecedented videos, NASA also released this week more photos from the surface showing the Jezero Crater, which once held a 28-mile-wide lake fed by a river that deposited sediments in a broad delta. Cliffs marking the edge of that delta some 1.2 miles away to the northwest can be clearly seen by Perseverance's cameras.
Along with 25 cameras, the rover also carries two microphones. One failed to work during descent, but the other captured the sounds of the Martian wind blowing past. NASA released a snippet of audio picked up by the rover's microphone - the first sound ever recorded on another planet.
Launched last July, Perseverance reached Mars on Thursday, February 18, plunging into the atmosphere for a seven-minute descent.
Perseverance's descent, like that of the Curiosity rover before it, is known as "seven minutes of terror" because of the extreme entry environment and the myriad events that must happen on time and without intervention from Earth to complete a successful landing.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.