NASA’s latest mission to Mars has been a successful one thus far. After providing photos of Perseverance’s safe descent to the surface last week, the agency has revealed footage of the critical moments of the landing: the moments when the rover touched down.
The video shows the rover falling towards the planet, using its parachutes and engines to slow itself down, and then touching down on the floor.
As such, it offered “a glimpse of what it would be like to land in Jezer Crater”, said Matt Wallace, the deputy project manager for the mission.
It shows everything from the parachutes being deployed while the rover is about seven miles above the surface – to the process of actually dropping onto the surface. In between, the heat shield and the protective backshell drop off, before the rover is lowered down by its jetpack-like descent stage, which uses rocket engines to safely lower it down.
The videos were taken using five commercial cameras that were attached to three different parts of the spacecraft. Two of them were on the backshell that protected the rover through its journey, and were able to capture pictures of the parachutes as they inflated; another on the descent stage was facing downwards and gave a look at the top of the rover; two more were on the rover itself, looking up and down.
“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.