NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance mission captured footage of its rover landing in Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021. The footage was captured by several cameras that are part of the rover’s entry, descent, and landing suite. The views include a camera looking down from the spacecraft’s descent stage, a camera on the rover looking up at the descent stage, a camera on the top of the aeroshell looking up at that parachute, and a camera on the bottom of the rover looking down at the Martian surface. The audio embedded in the video comes from the mission control call-outs during entry, descent, and landing.
“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.”
“The video of Perseverance’s descent is the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit,” said Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA.
“It should become mandatory viewing for young women and men who not only want to explore other worlds and build the spacecraft that will take them there, but also want to be part of the diverse teams achieving all the audacious goals in our future.”
This panorama, taken on February 20, 2021, by the Navigation Cameras (Navcams) aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, was stitched together from six individual images after they were sent back to Earth. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech.
The video begins about 230 seconds after the spacecraft entered the upper atmosphere of Mars at 20,100 kph (12,500 mph).
It opens in black, with the camera lens still covered within the parachute compartment. Within less than a second, the spacecraft’s parachute deploys and transforms from a compressed 46 by 66 cm (18 by 26 inch) cylinder of nylon, Technora, and Kevlar into a fully inflated 21.5-m- (70.5-foot) wide canopy — the largest ever sent to Mars.
The tens of thousands of pounds of force that the parachute generates in such a short period stresses both the parachute and the vehicle.
Perseverance’s Navcams captured this view of the rover’s deck on February 20, 2021. This view provides a good look at PIXL (the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry), one of the instruments on the rover’s stowed arm. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech.
“Now we finally have a front-row view to what we call ‘the seven minutes of terror’ while landing on Mars,” said Dr. Michael Watkins, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“From the explosive opening of the parachute to the landing rockets’ plume sending dust and debris flying at touchdown, it’s absolutely awe-inspiring.”
The video also captures the heat shield dropping away after protecting Perseverance from scorching temperatures during its entry into the Martian atmosphere.
Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomable cameras aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover, images its calibration target for the first time since the rover landed on Mars on February 18, 2021. The target is used as a reference marker so scientists can adjust the colors and settings on the cameras. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS / ASU.
The downward view from the rover sways gently like a pendulum as the descent stage, with Perseverance attached, hangs from the back shell and parachute.
The Martian landscape quickly pitches as the descent stage breaks free, its eight thrusters engaging to put distance between it and the now-discarded back shell and the parachute.
Then, 80 seconds and 2,130 m (7,000 feet) later, the cameras capture the descent stage performing the sky crane maneuver over the landing site — the plume of its rocket engines kicking up dust and small rocks that have likely been in place for billions of years.
This image shows one of the six wheels of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech.
“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 Perseverance’s EDL camera and microphone subsystem at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The footage ends with Perseverance’s aluminum wheels making contact with the surface at 2.6 km per second (1.61 mph), and then pyrotechnically fired blades sever the cables connecting it to the still-hovering descent stage. The descent stage then climbs and accelerates away in the preplanned flyaway maneuver.
This first image of NASA’s Perseverance Rover on the surface of Mars from the High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the many parts of the Mars 2020 mission landing system that got the rover safely on the ground. The image was taken on February 19, 2021. The image points out the locations of the parachute and back shell, the descent stage, the Perseverance rover, and the heat shield. Each inset shows an area about 200 m (650 feet) across. The rover itself sits at the center of a blast pattern created by the hovering descent stage that lowered it there using the sky crane maneuver. The descent stage flew off to crash at a safe distance, creating a V-shaped debris pattern that points back toward the rover. Earlier in the landing sequence, Perseverance jettisoned its heat shield and parachute, which can be seen on the surface in the separate locations illustrated. These objects are highly visible on the surface of Mars now but will become dustier with time and slowly fade into the background over years. HiRISE will continue to image the Perseverance landing site to track the progress of the rover and changes with the other pieces of hardware that accompanied it. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona.
“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,” said Matt Wallace, Mars 2020 Perseverance deputy project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The Perseverance team also released the first panorama of the rover’s landing location, taken by the two Navigation Cameras located on its mast.
This article is based on text provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.