After a long weekend with no updates or images from theNASA on Monday released a spectacular abundance of videos, including never-before-seen footage capturing the on the surface of the red planet.
While previous landers captured stills during descent, which were later stitched together to form a sort of action movie, Perseverance was fitted with standard “rugged” video cameras to shoot high-resolution footage of the rover’s dive for land on the ground of.
Over the weekend, engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., Where Perseverance was built, downlinked 30 gigabytes of data from the rover, including 23,000 images and video frames. This allowed them to give the public a bird’s eye view of a Mars landing.
“This is the first time that we have been able to capture an event like the landing of a spacecraft on Mars,” said Michael Watkins, director of JPL. “We will learn something by watching the performance of the vehicle in these videos. But a lot of it is also about taking you on our journey, our Mars landing and, of course, our mission on the surface. amazing videos. “
A rear-mounted camera of Perseverance’s flying saucer-shaped aeroshell captured crystal-clear views of the spacecraft’s 70.5-foot-wide parachute deploying into the supersonic wake, inflating in half a second for act as a 60,000 pound brake, slowing the craft. from just under 1000 mph to 200 mph quieter.
Equally spectacular views downwards showed the approach to the ground below as the one-ton rover gently swayed under the parachute. The rover then freed itself and its rocket-powered backpack was triggered, guiding the craft to a safe landing site it had selected earlier.
As the backpack lowered Perseverance to the surface, the exhaust plumes from the descent vehicle’s eight engines raised swirling clouds of dust that briefly obscured the lander. Then, with its wheels on the ground, the support cables were cut, and a camera on Perseverance showed the backpack lifting up and flying out of sight.
In addition to the unprecedented video, NASA also released other photos of the surface showing the rover’s landing site in Jezero Crater, which once housed a 28-mile-wide lake fed by a river that deposited sediment in a large delta. The cliffs marking the edge of this delta about 2 km to the northwest can be clearly seen by Perseverance cameras.
Deputy project director Matt Wallace said the idea of putting video cameras on board to document the rover’s entry, descent and landing came after he bought his daughter a small camera. sportswear she wore in a harness while practicing gymnastics.
“She did a back flip, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t do a back flip,” he said. “But when she showed me the video … I got a glimpse of what it would be like if I could do a back flip. And that was the moment that inspired my friend (camera engineer Perseverance) Dave Grohl, and that’s what led to this system. “
In addition to 25 cameras, the rover also features two microphones. One did not work during the descent, but the other captured the sounds of the passing Martian wind. NASA has released an audio clip 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, dipping into the atmosphere for a seven-minute descent.
The river and lake it fed about 3.5 billion years ago are long gone, but scientists say the remnants of past microbial life, if such life existed, could be preserved in the deposits from the bottom of the lake. Perseverance is the first lander sent to Mars specifically to search for such “biosignatures” and to cache soil and rock samples for possible return to Earth.
The descent of Perseverance, like that of the Curiosity rover before it, is known as the “seven minutes of terror” due to the extreme entry environment and the myriad of events that must occur in time and without. intervention of the Earth to make a successful landing.
Despite promises before landing that “raw” footage from the rover’s hazard prevention cameras and others would be displayed upon arrival, less than half a dozen were released on Friday night and none showed up. over the weekend.
This sparked concern among space enthusiasts, but Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s scientific director, tweeted on Sunday that the focus was on uploading video and onboard data on the health of the rover’s systems.
“Since landing @NASAPersevere, we prioritize two types of data: the first kind of footage of the rover entering, descending and landing. And health and safety data for the rover. and its subsystems, ”he tweeted.
He later added: “I am so proud of this team @NASAPersevere for working so hard and diligently and for being able to deliver things to us earlier than expected because they know the intense public interest.”