New video from NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover chronicles never-before-seen views of a spacecraft landing on another planet, as the spacecraft plummeted, parachuted, and rocketed toward the surface of Mars on 18 February. A microphone on the rover also has provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars.
From the moment of parachute inflation, the camera system covers the entirety of the descent process, showing some of the rover’s intense ride to Mars’ Jezero Crater. The footage from high-definition cameras aboard the spacecraft starts 11 kilometres (7 miles) above the surface, showing the supersonic deployment of the most massive parachute ever sent to another world, and ends with the rover’s touchdown in the crater.
A microphone attached to the rover did not collect usable data during the descent, but the commercial off-the-shelf device survived the highly dynamic descent to the surface and obtained sounds from Jezero Crater on 20 February. About 10 seconds into the 60-second recording, a Martian breeze is audible for a few seconds, as are mechanical sounds of the rover operating on the surface.
“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.”
Later this week, control teams at JPL will command Perseverance to switch to a new software program governing the rover’s surface mission. Officials said last week the rover could be ready for its test drive by its eighth or ninth full day on Mars, or as soon as this weekend.
NASA is also releasing raw images from Perseverance on a JPL website. As of Monday evening, more than 4,600 images from the spacecraft were uploaded to the site.
The video of the landing can be seen here on YouTube.