The United States' space agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), released a high-quality video of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover's dynamic landing on the Martian surface on Monday. The three-minute footage begins seven miles above the surface, with the spacecraft deploying a gigantic 70.5-foot-parachute 230 seconds after its entry into the red planet's atmosphere.
On Thursday, Perseverance landed in the Jezero Crater at 3:55 PM EST, pulling off an incredibly challenging and complex part of a seven-month-long journey that began at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on July 30, 2020.
The entire sequence of entry, descent and landing (EDL) was captured by four cameras. One on top of the aeroshell pointed at the parachute, one looking down at the surface from the bottom of the rover, a camera providing a downward view of the descent stage, and another one placed on the rover that filmed the Sky Crane Maneuver where a jetpack lowers Perseverance through a cable onto the dusty Martian surface.
"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, the lead engineer behind Perseverance EDL and microphone subsystem at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
"We know the public is fascinated with Mars exploration, so we added the EDL Cam microphone to the vehicle because we hoped it could enhance the experience, especially for visually-impaired space fans, and engage and inspire people around the world," a NASA press release quoted him as saying.
The microphone sent back a 60-second recording of sounds from the landing site, 10 seconds into which a breeze can be heard simultaneously with the whirring of the rover.
As NASA JPL director Michael Watkins put it, "Now we finally have a front-row view to what we call 'the seven minutes of terror' while landing on Mars. From the explosive opening of the parachute to the landing rockets' plume sending dust and debris flying at touchdown, it's absolutely awe-inspiring."
Perseverance is the successor to NASA's car-sized Curiosity rover that has been operational for over eight years now since landing in the Gale Crater on August 6, 2012. It will seek signs of past microbial life and habitable conditions on Mars besides collecting rock samples for a possible return to Earth.
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