This is what seems to land on Mars.
NASA's Perseverance Explorer took this video on February 18 when a jetpack brought it down to the surface of the Red Planet.
“It gives me goosebumps every time I see it,” engineer David Gruel of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a Feb. 22 news report.
The film begins with the rover's parachute opening above as the rover and its undercarriage enter the Martian atmosphere. Seconds later, a camera at the bottom of the rover shows the heat shield falling to the ground. If you look closely, you can see that one of the springs that pushed the heat shield out of the rover came loose, said NASA engineer Allen Chen, the entrance, descent and landing of the rover.
NASA’s Perseverance rover captured a video of its own landing using a set of cameras in the back of the incoming vehicle, the sky crane, and the rover itself.
“There’s no danger to the spacecraft here, but it’s something we didn’t expect and wouldn’t see” without the videos, he said.
The rover filmed the ground closer and closer, glimpsed a delta of the river, craters, ripples, and fractured terrain. The cameras at the top and bottom of the rover captured clouds of dust waving as the rover's jetpack, the crane in the sky, lowered it to the ground on three wires. A camera on the sky crane showed the rover swaying slightly as it descended. Eventually, the sky crane disconnected the cables and flew away, leaving Perseverance to begin its mission.
“It’s hard to express how exciting it was and how exciting it was for everyone” to see the film for the first time, said project deputy director Matt Wallace. “Every time we got something, people were very happy, dizzy. They were like children in a candy store. "
The film looks similar to the animations of the sky crane landing technique that NASA had released in the past that hardly looks real, says imaging scientist Justin Maki. “I can attest, it’s real,” he says. "It's awesome and it's real."
The rover also captured audio from the surface of the Red Planet for the first time, including a gust of Martian wind.
Perseverance landed on an ancient bed of the lake called Jezero Crater, about two miles from what looks like an ancient river delta that feeds into the crater (SN: 18/02/21). The rover’s main mission is to look for signs of past life and cache rock samples for a future mission to return to Earth.
The first images that Perseverance sent of Mars showed its wheels in a flat extension. The ground is littered with rocks pierced by holes, project assistant scientist Katie Stack Morgan said in a Feb. 19 news release.
“Depending on the origins of the rocks, these holes can mean different things,” he said. The scientific team thinks the holes could come from gases escaping from the volcanic rock as the lava cools or a fluid that moves through the rock and dissolves it. "Both would be equally exciting for the team."
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