With NASA’s rover Perseverance, there’s been a lot of firsts. It was the first rover to accurately live-map the Martian surface to survey a suitable touchdown spot.
It’s the first rover to include an attached drone that will assist in studying flight characteristics on Mars. Now it’s the first to capture a video of another planet from below the atmosphere.
The footage shows us a lot of amazing things. We are able to see the footage of the deployment of the parachute, which offers a depiction of the actual speed that it shoots out, right beside a slowed-down version, which really hones in on the details of the split-second deployment process.
As the heat shield separates from the bottom of the rover, we get a breathtaking view looking down at the sparse desert of the planet and get a relative scale as the rover’s lander vision system determined a valid landing spot and then the final stage of the EDL brings it down to hover over the ground, holding it there by the sky crane tether.
Finally, the sky crane detaches, flies off into the distance, and the rover gives the signal that the touchdown was confirmed.
The multiple angles available during this split-screen footage are all thanks to the multiple cameras aboard the EDL stage system. Surprisingly, there is a camera attached to the sky crane, which sent the data through before jettisoning off to its fate, and the rover captured both upward and downward views thanks to the pair of cameras attached.
What’s also great about the way the rover landed is that it pushed the top layer of dust off the surface, which is helping Perseverance capture stunning, high-resolution photos from its onboard cameras of the details in the rocks and soil directly around where it landed.
The whole process was a tremendous success and really helps bring into focus the reality of this neighboring planet of ours. We now have live footage of what it’s like to land on the Martian surface, and it even though we’ve done it many times before, it finally feels real.
Additionally, we have real recorded sound from the surface of what the wind of Mars sounds like. Thanks to two microphones on the rover, we are receiving back recordings of what the rover is hearing as it readies to start its surveying of rocks in the area, which is stunning in its own right. Yet another first in this monumental mission.
This mission has been one tremendous success after another, but the best is yet to come. Within the next couple of weeks, we will be able to see the Ingenuity take flight and get to see some further developments on rock sampling and the surrounding area the rover has landed in. There are lots of things to see and experiments to conduct on Mars, and we haven’t even begun moving yet.
Wherever this rover ends up, it’ll be setting records in its wake. Godspeed, Perseverance!