Space agency NASA has dropped a spectacular landing-sequence video from the red planet. After many hasty demands for images from its just-landed Perseverance rover on Mars—as well as a fake viral video—it’s proof that patience—and perseverance—are always rewarded.
One day laser communications will make it possible to watch Mars landings live on TV, but for now this is an extra-special video that was well worth the wait.
It’s a first-of-its-kind video of a manmade object arriving on another planet in high definition.
The unique video shows the final moments of Perseverance’s seven-month, 314 million miles journey, including the “seven minutes of terror” as the parachute unfurls and the rover is lowered to the surface of Mars on a tether from its descent or “jetpack” stage.
Here’s an animated version of the landing that gives you a better perspective of exactly what’s going on in the real video.
“It is unlikely that I will pilot a spacecraft down to the surface of Mars, but when you see this imagery I think you will feel like you’re getting a glimpse into what would be like to land successfully in Jezero Crater with Perseverance”, said Matt Wallace, Mars 2020 Deputy Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
It comes in the wake of Perseverance’s first raw images from Mars and then a batch of its first color images.
The 30GB, 23,000-image video was taken by three cameras as Perseverance touched down on Mars on February 18, 2021.
It landed in the planet’s Jezero Crater, which is thought to be an ancient river bed.
Delays in the uploading of raw images from the red planet were necessary to free-up enough bandwidth on NASA;s Deep Space Network of antennas for the transmission back to Earth of the still images that make-up the descent and landing the video.
“Since the landing we’ve been prioritizing two types of data: first-of-its-kind footage from the rover’s entry, descent & landing. And, health & safety data for the rover & its subsystems”, said Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen Associate Administrator at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, on Twitter.
“I am so proud of this team for working so hard and diligently and for being able to deliver things to us ahead of schedule because they know the intense public interest”, he added.
Perseverance will spend the next years searching for signs of ancient life.
It will also collect samples of rock and soil for possible return to Earth in the 2030s.
However, expect a lot more photos because the Perseverance rover and other parts of the Mars 2020 spacecraft feature an astonishing 23 cameras.
Strapped to the bottom of the Perseverance rover is the drone-like Mars Helicopter, also known as Ingenuity, which expected to take its first powered flight shortly.
A technology demonstrator for future missions, Ingenuity is scheduled to take a few short, solar-powered test flights over the course of a month. It will become the first vehicle to fly on another planet.
Future missions to Mars could include rovers and drones steered by astronauts and thus able to explore craters, hills and more challenging terrain.
In the coming days NASA is also expected to release audio from the Martian surface. Once Perseverance sends back recordings from its two microphones they will be posted online.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.
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