Perseverance Team Releases New Images, Video of Rover’s Landing | Planetary Science, Space Exploration
NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance mission captured footage of its rover landing in Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021. The footage was captured by several cameras that are part of the rover’s entry, descent, and landing suite. The views include a camera looking down from the spacecraft’s descent stage, a camera on the rover looking up at the descent stage, a camera on the top of the aeroshell looking up at that parachute, and a camera on the bottom of the rover looking down at the Martian surface. The audio embedded in the video comes from the mission control call-outs during entry, descent, and landing.
“For those who wonder how you land on Mars — or why it is so difficult – or how cool it would be to do so — you need look no further,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk.
“Perseverance is just getting started, and already has provided some of the most iconic visuals in space exploration history.”
“It reinforces the remarkable level of engineering and precision that is required to build and fly a vehicle to the Red Planet.”
“The video of Perseverance’s descent is the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit,” said Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA.
“It should become mandatory viewing for young women and men who not only want to explore other worlds and build the spacecraft that will take them there, but also want to be part of the diverse teams achieving all the audacious goals in our future.”
The video begins about 230 seconds after the spacecraft entered the upper atmosphere of Mars at 20,100 kph (12,500 mph).
It opens in black, with the camera lens still covered within the parachute compartment. Within less than a second, the spacecraft’s parachute deploys and transforms from a compressed 46 by 66 cm (18 by 26 inch) cylinder of nylon, Technora, and Kevlar into a fully inflated 21.5-m- (70.5-foot) wide canopy — the largest ever sent to Mars.
The tens of thousands of pounds of force that the parachute generates in such a short period stresses both the parachute and the vehicle.
“Now we finally have a front-row view to what we call ‘the seven minutes of terror’ while landing on Mars,” said Dr. Michael Watkins, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“From the explosive opening of the parachute to the landing rockets’ plume sending dust and debris flying at touchdown, it’s absolutely awe-inspiring.”
The video also captures the heat shield dropping away after protecting Perseverance from scorching temperatures during its entry into the Martian atmosphere.
The downward view from the rover sways gently like a pendulum as the descent stage, with Perseverance attached, hangs from the back shell and parachute.
The Martian landscape quickly pitches as the descent stage breaks free, its eight thrusters engaging to put distance between it and the now-discarded back shell and the parachute.
Then, 80 seconds and 2,130 m (7,000 feet) later, the cameras capture the descent stage performing the sky crane maneuver over the landing site — the plume of its rocket engines kicking up dust and small rocks that have likely been in place for billions of years.
“We put the EDL camera system onto the spacecraft not only for the opportunity to gain a better understanding of our spacecraft’s performance during entry, descent, and landing, but also because we wanted to take the public along for the ride of a lifetime — landing on the surface of Mars,” said Dave Gruel, lead engineer for Perseverance’s EDL camera and microphone subsystem at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The footage ends with Perseverance’s aluminum wheels making contact with the surface at 2.6 km per second (1.61 mph), and then pyrotechnically fired blades sever the cables connecting it to the still-hovering descent stage. The descent stage then climbs and accelerates away in the preplanned flyaway maneuver.
“I’ve been waiting 25 years for the opportunity to see a spacecraft land on Mars. It was worth the wait. Being able to share this with the world is a great moment for our team,” said Matt Wallace, Mars 2020 Perseverance deputy project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The Perseverance team also released the first panorama of the rover’s landing location, taken by the two Navigation Cameras located on its mast.
This article is based on text provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.