perseverance rover dropped

Nasa releases footage of Perseverance rover landing on Mars

Image credit: nasa

Nasa has released a video of its Perseverance rover touching down on Mars, the first time such footage has been captured.

The video was recorded last week by a series of cameras mounted at different angles on the multi-stage spacecraft as it carried the rover through the thin atmosphere to its eventual touchdown inside a vast basin called Jezero Crater.

Nasa described the footage as “amazing” and said the rover is in a healthy state and is continuing with activities as planned for the first few days on the surface of Mars. The first sounds recorded from the surface were also released, such as a gust of wind caught on Perseverance’s microphone.

Mission deputy project manager Matt Wallace said he believed the Martian breeze represented the first ambient sound directly recorded on the surface of Mars and played back for humans.

Speaking at a press conference, JPL director Michael Watkins said: “This is the first time we’ve been able to actually capture an event like the landing of a spacecraft on Mars.

“These are pretty cool videos and 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.”

Perseverance blasted off from Earth in July 2020 with a mission to search for signs of former alien life. The car-sized robotic spacecraft’s daring entry into the Martian atmosphere was described by Nasa as “seven minutes of terror”.

Perseverance will spend the coming years scouring for signs of ancient microbial life in a mission that will bring back samples to Earth and prepare the way for future human visitors.

On only one other occasion has moving footage of a spacecraft landing on Mars been beamed back to Earth. That video was shot from beneath the previous rover, Curiosity, during its descent to the planet's surface in 2012.

At 3.5 frames per second, the jerky footage was of a much lower quality than Perseverance and was shot from a single angle that showed the ground gradually getting closer but included no images of the parachute or sky-crane manoeuvres.

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