NASA has released the first video of the Perseverance rover's descent and landing on planet Mars. Earlier, the space agency promised it will show everyone a view of Mars "like never before," and with the recent footage, it appears NASA delivered on its promise.
According to a report published by Tech Crunch, the six-wheeled planetary surface exploration vehicle Perseverance completed its descent and landing on the surface of the Red Planet on February 18. As the rover made its descent on Mars, a plethora of specialised cameras captured each mind-blowing scene from the moment its parachute opened all the way to the surface landing.
During a press conference on Monday, Mike Watkins, the director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA, revealed this is the first time they were able to capture such an event. "This is the first time we've been able to actually capture an event like the landing of a spacecraft on Mars. We all binge-watched them over the weekend," Watkins said.
NASA's dramatic footage of the Perseverance descent and landing began approximately seven miles above the surface of the Red Planet. The video ended with the separation of Perseverance from its descent stage.
Back on Earth, the space agency received a huge amount of data as the rover sent back thousands of images of a different world. "We collected more than 30GB of information and over 23,000 images of the vehicle descending down to the surface of Mars," said Dave Gruel, the chief of the Perseverance mission's Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) team and camera set lead.
While most people are already familiar with the dusty red surface of Mars, which mostly came from past NASA rover missions over the past two decades and on simulation images posted on the Mars 2020 Mission Perseverance page, the new images delivered by the space agency recently are enough to blow away even the keenest observers of the Red Planet. There are many amazing moments as perseverance made its way down to the surface of the alien planet.
The jettisoning of the heat shield from the spacecraft's lower part showed a serene goodbye to the protective gear of the Perseverance. The footage showed the black disk flying away from Perseverance down to its final resting place on the Red Planet's surface.
The highlight of the footage, however, is the scene from both the rover as it gave everyone a view of its descent stage, and on the other side, from the descent stage beaming images from down below. Although many already saw stunning images from both descent and landing phases of previous missions, seeing the images as it unfolds instantaneously is mind-blowing.
The footage showed the descent stage lowering Perseverance to the surface through what NASA calls a "sky crane." The mechanism works like a claw machine in reverse, which drops an object instead of picking it up. Once the planetary surface exploration vehicle settled safely on the surface, the descent stage automatically flies away from the landing zone and nosedives into the Red Planet's soil. "Percy," the nickname NASA gave to Perseverance, gave the descent stage one final look as if bidding the craft goodbye before it nosedived into the surface.