NASA Releases Incredible Perseverance Rover Landing Video

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NASA’s Perseverance rover has been on the surface of Mars for several days, giving the team here on Earth time to run system checks and download preliminary data from the robot. The agency has now released the first large batch of media from the mission, including hundreds of still images and the first video and audio ever recorded on Mars. 

Some past Mars missions have sent back “videos,” but those were actually GIFs stitched together from a handful of still frames. Perseverance has 23 cameras, several of which can record full-motion video. NASA used some of those cameras to capture the rover’s landing in incredible detail. 

The video below shows the entire landing procedure, starting as the descent stage began lining up for its touchdown in Jezero Crater. Early in the video, an upward-facing camera filmed the parachute deployment, while the downward view showed the heat shield dropping off. With the rover exposed, the landing cameras and radar were able to pick out the landing zone, which is entirely autonomous as Mars is too far away to control the robot in real-time. 

The truly amazing part of the landing video comes when the sky crane works its magic. Just like Curiosity, Perseverance used a rocket-powered sled to hover just above the surface, allowing the crane to place it gently on the planet before flying off to crash a safe distance away. This time, NASA and the rest of the world gets to see the sky crane in action from multiple angles: there’s video of the dusty crater floor under the rover, a shot from the rover looking up at the crane, and a video from the crane looking down at Perseverance as it dangled at the end of the cables. At the very end, you can see the sky crane float out of frame as it moves clear of the lander. 

Following the landing, NASA flipped the switch on Perseverance’s microphones, which are a new addition this year. The InSight lander was able to record sounds in a roundabout way by translating vibrations in its solar panels into audio, but Perseverance has just returned the first real sound from Mars. As expected, it’s quiet and a little eerie. 

The team is currently working on getting the rover’s high-gain antenna online. When that happens, it will be easier to send and receive data from Perseverance. In the meantime, there are already hundreds of new images from Mars available on the Mars 2020 site. You can check regularly to see more of the raw data and mission updates.

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