NASA releases Mars landing video: ‘Stuff of our dreams’

Agencies
February 23, 2021

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Washington, Feb 23: NASA on Monday released the first high-quality video of a spacecraft landing on Mars, a three-minute trailer showing the enormous orange and white parachute hurtling open and the red dust kicking up as rocket engines lowered the rover to the surface.

The footage was so good and the images so breathtaking that members of the rover team said they felt like they were riding along.

Your front-row seat to my Mars landing is here. Watch how we did it.#CountdownToMars pic.twitter.com/Avv13dSVmQ

— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 22, 2021

It gives me goose bumps every time I see it, just amazing, said Dave Gruel, head of the entry and descent camera team.

The Perseverance rover landed last Thursday near an ancient river delta in Jezero Crater to search for signs of ancient microscopic life. After spending the weekend binge-watching the descent and landing video, the team at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, shared the video at a news conference.

These videos and these images are the stuff of our dreams," said Al Chen, who was in charge of the landing team.

Six off-the-shelf color cameras were devoted to entry, descent and landing, looking up and down from different perspectives. All but one camera worked. The lone microphone turned on for landing failed, but NASA got some snippets of sound after touchdown: the whirring of the rover's systems and wind gusts.

Flight controllers were thrilled with the thousands of images beamed back and also with the remarkably good condition of NASA's biggest and most capable rover yet. It will spend the next two years exploring the dry river delta and drilling into rocks that may hold evidence of life 3 billion to 4 billion years ago. The core samples will be set aside for return to Earth in a decade.

NASA added 25 cameras to the USD 3 billion mission the most ever sent to Mars. The space agency's previous rover, 2012's Curiosity, managed only jerky, grainy stop-motion images, mostly of terrain. Curiosity is still working. So is NASA's InSight lander, although it's hampered by dusty solar panels.

They may have company in late spring, when China attempts to land its own rover, which went into orbit around Mars two weeks ago.

Deputy project manager Matt Wallace said he was inspired several years ago to film Perseverance's harrowing descent when his young gymnast daughter wore a camera while performing a backflip.

Some of the spacecraft systems like the sky crane used to lower the rover onto the Martian surface could not be tested on Earth.

So this is the first time we've had a chance as engineers to actually see what we designed, Wallace told reporters.

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's science mission chief, said the video and also the panoramic views following touchdown are the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit.

The images will help NASA prepare for astronaut flights to Mars in the decades ahead, according to the engineers.

There's a more immediate benefit.

I know it's been a tough year for everybody, said imaging scientist Justin Maki, and we're hoping that maybe these images will help brighten people's days.

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Agencies
February 24,2021

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California, Feb 24: The huge parachute used by NASA's Perseverance rover to land on Mars contained a secret message, thanks to a puzzle lover on the spacecraft team.

Systems engineer Ian Clark used a binary code to spell out Dare Mighty Things in the orange and white strips of the 70-foot (21-metre) parachute. He also included the GPS coordinates for the mission's headquarters at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Clark, a crossword hobbyist, came up with the idea two years ago. Engineers wanted an unusual pattern in the nylon fabric to know how the parachute was oriented during descent. Turning it into a secret message was super fun", he said Tuesday.

Only about six people knew about the encoded message before Thursday's landing, according to Clark. They waited until the parachute images came back before putting out a teaser during a televised news conference on Monday.

It took just a few hours for space fans to figure it out, Clark said. Next time, he noted, I'll have to be a little bit more creative.

Dare Mighty Things a line from President Theodore Roosevelt is a mantra at JPL and adorns many of the centre's walls. The trick was trying to come up with a way of encoding it but not making it too obvious," Clark said.

As for the GPS coordinates, the spot is 10 feet (3 metres) from the entrance to JPL's visitor centre.

Another added touch not widely known until touchdown: Perseverance bears a plaque depicting all five of NASA's Mars rovers in increasing size over the years similar to the family car decals seen on Earth.

Deputy project manager Matt Wallace promises more so-called hidden Easter eggs. They should be visible once Perseverance's 7-foot (2-metre) arm is deployed in a few days and starts photographing under the vehicle, and again when the rover is driving in a couple weeks.

Definitely, definitely should keep a good lookout, he urged.

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Agencies
February 23,2021

image.png

Washington, Feb 23: NASA on Monday released the first high-quality video of a spacecraft landing on Mars, a three-minute trailer showing the enormous orange and white parachute hurtling open and the red dust kicking up as rocket engines lowered the rover to the surface.

The footage was so good and the images so breathtaking that members of the rover team said they felt like they were riding along.

Your front-row seat to my Mars landing is here. Watch how we did it.#CountdownToMars pic.twitter.com/Avv13dSVmQ

— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 22, 2021

It gives me goose bumps every time I see it, just amazing, said Dave Gruel, head of the entry and descent camera team.

The Perseverance rover landed last Thursday near an ancient river delta in Jezero Crater to search for signs of ancient microscopic life. After spending the weekend binge-watching the descent and landing video, the team at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, shared the video at a news conference.

These videos and these images are the stuff of our dreams," said Al Chen, who was in charge of the landing team.

Six off-the-shelf color cameras were devoted to entry, descent and landing, looking up and down from different perspectives. All but one camera worked. The lone microphone turned on for landing failed, but NASA got some snippets of sound after touchdown: the whirring of the rover's systems and wind gusts.

Flight controllers were thrilled with the thousands of images beamed back and also with the remarkably good condition of NASA's biggest and most capable rover yet. It will spend the next two years exploring the dry river delta and drilling into rocks that may hold evidence of life 3 billion to 4 billion years ago. The core samples will be set aside for return to Earth in a decade.

NASA added 25 cameras to the USD 3 billion mission the most ever sent to Mars. The space agency's previous rover, 2012's Curiosity, managed only jerky, grainy stop-motion images, mostly of terrain. Curiosity is still working. So is NASA's InSight lander, although it's hampered by dusty solar panels.

They may have company in late spring, when China attempts to land its own rover, which went into orbit around Mars two weeks ago.

Deputy project manager Matt Wallace said he was inspired several years ago to film Perseverance's harrowing descent when his young gymnast daughter wore a camera while performing a backflip.

Some of the spacecraft systems like the sky crane used to lower the rover onto the Martian surface could not be tested on Earth.

So this is the first time we've had a chance as engineers to actually see what we designed, Wallace told reporters.

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's science mission chief, said the video and also the panoramic views following touchdown are the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit.

The images will help NASA prepare for astronaut flights to Mars in the decades ahead, according to the engineers.

There's a more immediate benefit.

I know it's been a tough year for everybody, said imaging scientist Justin Maki, and we're hoping that maybe these images will help brighten people's days.

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Agencies
February 20,2021

Image result for Perseverance rover 'doing great' on surface of Mars after landing: NASA engineer

Washington, Feb 20: The Perseverance Rover is "doing great" and successfully transmitting data back to Earth after a soft landing on the surface of Mars, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engineers told a press conference at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California on Friday.

"The Rover is doing great on the surface of Mars and continues to be highly functional and awesome and I'm exhilarated," mission operations system manager Pauline Hwang said. "Power system is nominal. Yesterday we had three highly successful ULF relay passes. We got more Rover engineering data and imagery. We processed more camera images."

The Rover has already transmitted its first photographs to Earth, exciting scientists with its view of rocks that appear to have large numbers of small holes caused by sedimentary or volcanic processes, Hwang said. But it would be at least 60 "solar" or Martian days which are slightly longer than Earth ones before its helicopter Ingenuity would fly, she said.

"Once we get into surface flight software, we will get into the next upgrades. [The] earliest we can do helicopter flights may be till Sol 60 (60 Martian days) if we're super fast. There is still work to go to find a 'helicopter pad,' a good site for the helicopter to fly from," she said.

On Saturday, NASA engineers will check out more of the Rover's instruments and raise its communications mast, Hwang said. A primary objective for the mission is to search for signs of ancient microbial life. The Rover will also study Mars' geology and past climate and be the first mission to collect and cache the planet's rocks, NASA said.

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