The world received the first up-close look of a spacecraft landing on Mars in a video beamed back to NASA by its ‘most sophisticated’ rover, Perseverance, which touched down Thursday. 

The video begins with the violent release of the sonic parachute from the rover, along with ejection of the heat shield and shows the moment the sky crane maneuver is activated.

Perseverance is equipped with 25 cameras and two microphones that were all switched on during the $2.2billion rover’s Thursday decent.

Although the microphones did not capture audio, the camera system was able to shoot footage of the dramatic ‘seven minutes of terror’ when Perseverance endured tumultuous conditions that battered the craft as it entered the Martian atmosphere and approached the surface.

After the parachute deployed and heat shell was discarded, Perseverance was able to take its first look of Mars’ red, dusty surface as it floated down toward the landing target.

Craters are seen littering the Red Planet, along with higher elevated landscape in the distance. 

‘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.’ 

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The video begins with the violent release of the sonic parachute from the rover, along with ejection of the heat shield and the moment the sky crane maneuver was activated.

The world’s most intimate view of a Mars landing started about 230 seconds after the spacecraft entered the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere as it traveled like a speeding comet at 12,500 mph (20,100 kph). 

The video begins when the are camera lens are still covered by the parachute compartment – showing a black screen.

Within seconds, the parachute deploys allowing the rover to look around the Martian world for the first time. 

Viewers see the massive chute that was compressed into 18-by-26 inch cylinder open up into an inflated 70.5-foot-wide canopy that is the largest ever sent to Mars.

Craters are seen littering the Red Planet, along with higher elevated landscape in the distance

The video begins when the camera lens are still covered by the parachute compartment – showing a black screen. However, within a second, the parachute deploys allowing the rover to look around the Martian world for the first time

NASA says in a statement that ‘tens of thousands of pounds of force that the parachute generates in such a short period stresses both the parachute and the vehicle.’

This also marks the moment Perseverance started studying the terrain below and searching for a potential landing spot. 

‘Now we finally have a front-row view to what we call ‘the seven minutes of terror’ while landing on Mars,’ said Michael Watkins, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which manages the mission for the agency. 

‘From the explosive opening of the parachute to the landing rockets’ plume sending dust and debris flying at touchdown, it’s absolutely awe-inspiring.’ 

Next we see the shining heat shield drop away from Perseverance, which protected the rover as it soared through temperatures of 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Next we see the shining heat shield drop away from Perseverance, which protected the rover as it soared through temperatures of 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit

This allowed the rover to activate its bottom cameras that captured the Martian terrain as the vehicle floated down to the landing target. The rover was swaying back and forth like a pendulum as it fell closer to the surface, as it hung from the back shell and parachute

At the 80 second mark of the video and 7,000 feet into the decent, the cameras captured the sky crane maneuver over the landing site. As Perseverance is lowered, it kicks up dust on the ground that may have sat in the same place for billions of years

This allowed the rover to activate its bottom cameras that captured the Martian terrain as the vehicle floated down to the landing target.  

The rover was swaying back and forth like a pendulum as it fell closer to the surface, as it hung from the back shell and parachute.

The Martian landscape quickly becomes closer as the descent stage is deployed, which is the free-flying ‘jetpack’ that is tasked with lowering Perseverance safely to the surface using its mechanical bridles.

Once the decent stage gets two work, its eight thrusters engages to put a distance between Perseverance and the back shell and parachute.

At the 80-second mark of the video and 7,000 feet into the decent, the cameras captured the sky crane maneuver over the landing site.

Nylon cords held Perseverance 25 feet below the jetpack and gently placed the rover down on the red soil and kicks up dust on the ground that may have sat in the same place for billions of years.

The sky crane maneuver is the final landing stage that was also used when Curioisty landed on Mars in 2012. 

And then the rover’s rear cameras watched the sky crane fly off into the distance where it landed far enough to not interfere with Perseverance.

‘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, lead engineer for Mars 2020 Perseverance’s EDL camera and microphone subsystem at JPL. 

And then the rover’s rear cameras watch the sky crane fly off into the distance where it landed far enough to not interfere with Perseverance

The dramatic video comes to a close with Perseverance’s aluminum wheels making contact with the surface for the first time and then pyrotechnically fired blades sever the cables connecting it to the still-hovering descent stage

Also released Monday was the mission’s first panorama of the rover’s landing location, taken by the two Navigation Cameras located on its mast

‘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.’ 

The dramatic video comes to a close with  Perseverance’s aluminum wheels making contact with the surface for the first time and then pyrotechnically fired blades sever the cables connecting it to the still-hovering descent stage. 

‘If this were an old Western movie, I’d say the descent stage was our hero riding slowly into the setting Sun, but the heroes are actually back here on Earth,’ said Matt Wallace, Mars 2020 Perseverance deputy project manager at JPL. 

Perseverance touched down on Mars Thursday and has been sending NASA videos and footage over the weekend. Pictured is one of thousands of images the rover has taken of the Red Planet

A day after landing, NASA was able to collect Perseverance’s first images of Mars. An image shot by the sky crane that shows Perseverance, nicknamed Perky, slung beneath and attached to mechanical bridles – moments before making landfall

The $2.2.billion rover touched down on the Martian surface Thursday following a 239 million mile journey and scientists say it is ‘doing great and is healthy on the surface, and continues to be highly functional.’ Pictured is an image obtained over the weekend by NASA

‘I’ve been waiting 25 years for the opportunity to see a spacecraft land on Mars. It was worth the wait. Being able to share this with the world is a great moment for our team.’

Also released Monday was the mission’s first panorama of the rover’s landing location, taken by the two Navigation Cameras located on its mast. 

And NASA also shared the first audio of Mars captured by the two microphones on Perseverance that play a faint wind sound.

The sound clip is just about 10 seconds, but is the first sounds of the Martian world. 

‘Imagine yourself sitting on the surface of Mars and listening to the surroundings,’ Gruel said during the news briefing. ‘It’s cool, really neat. Overwhelming, if you will.’ 

Perseverance, the fifth rover the agency has landed on Mars, currently is undergoing an extensive checkout of all its systems and instruments, but NASA says it is healthy and highly functioning. 

The $2.2.billion rover touched down on the Martian surface Thursday following a 239-million-mile journey and scientists say it is ‘doing great and is healthy on the surface, and continues to be highly functional.’ 

A day after landing, NASA was able to collect Perseverance’s first images of Mars. 

An image shot by the sky crane that shows Perseverance, nicknamed Perky, slung beneath and attached to mechanical bridles– moments before making landfall. 

NASA shared an image laying out where certain features landed on Mars during Perseverance decent or ‘seven minutes of terror’

NASA also gave the world confirmation over the weekend that Perseverance’s travel companion, the Ingenuity helicopter, is alive and well. Mission control in Southern California received the first status report from Ingenuity late on Friday via the space-based Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

‘The moment that my team dreamed of for years, now a reality. Dare mighty things,’ the Perseverance team tweeted as it shared the image on Twitter. 

The detailed image, which could become an iconic image in spaceflight, shows the long nylon cords lowering Perseverance to the Martian surface, along with the rover’s mechanics and wheels danging in the air. 

NASA also gave the world confirmation over the weekend that Perseverance’s travel companion, the Ingenuity helicopter, is alive and well. 

Mission control in Southern California received the first status report from Ingenuity late on Friday via the space-based Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Ingenuity will remain attached to the belly of Perseverance for between 30 and 60 days before it detaches and makes its maiden flight to investigate the Martian atmisphere.

Perseverance’s primary goal is to look for ‘biosignatures’ — signs of past or present microbial life — as well as gathering rock samples which will be picked up by another mission in 2026.

The rover will drill into the dusty surface and gather material into titanium, germ free tubes that will be placed in the vehicle’s belly.

NASA aims to gather at least 20 samples with a variety of material that can be brought back to Earth for further analysis.

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