Perseverance rover sends film of descent, first ever audio from Mars

Agencies
February 23, 2021

Nasa releases video of Perseverance rover landing on Mars | Mars | The  Guardian

Washington, Feb 23: NASA scientists on Monday unveiled first-of-a-kind home movies of last week's daredevil Mars rover landing, vividly showing its supersonic parachute inflation over the red planet and a rocket-powered hovercraft lowering the science lab on wheels to the surface.

The footage was recorded on Thursday by a series of cameras mounted at different angles of the multi-stage spacecraft as it carried the rover, named Perseverance, through the thin Martian atmosphere to a gentle touchdown inside a vast basin called Jezero Crater.

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, called seeing the footage "the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit."

NASA also released the first audio from Mars, a faint wind sound captured by the rover.

The video montage was played for reporters tuning in to a news briefing webcast from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles four days after the historic landing of the most advanced astrobiology probe ever sent to another world.

You might have seen photos from Mars, but have you seen high-speed video?

🤩 We captured our @NASAPersevere rover’s final minutes of descent and landing in a way never seen before. Take a look: https://t.co/CQQtlWAzNF pic.twitter.com/uR3dtocwLF

— NASA (@NASA) February 23, 2021

NASA also presented a brief audio clip captured by microphones on the rover after its arrival that included the murmur of a light wind gust - the first ever recorded on the fourth planet from the sun.

JPL imaging scientist Justin Maki said NASA's stationary landing craft InSight, which arrived on Mars in 2018 to study its deep interior, previously measured seismic signals on the planet that were "acoustically driven" and then "rendered as audio."

But mission deputy project manager Matt Wallace said he believed the Martian breeze represented the first ambient sound directly recorded on the surface of Mars and played back for humans.

The spacecraft's mics failed to collect useable audio during descent to the crater floor. But they did pick up a mechanical whirring from the rover after its arrival. Wallace said he hoped to record other sounds, such as the rover's wheels crunching over the surface and its robotic arm drilling for samples of Martian rock.

'The stuff of our dreams'

But it was film footage from the spacecraft's perilous, self-guided ride through Martian skies to touchdown - an interval NASA has dubbed "the seven minutes of terror" - that JPL's team found particularly striking.

"These videos, and these images are the stuff of our dreams," Al Chen, head of the descent and landing team, told reporters. JPL Director Mike Watkins said engineers spent much of the weekend "binge-watching" the footage.

The video, filmed in color at 75 frames a second, shows action in fluid, vivid motion from several angles, the first such imagery ever recorded of a spacecraft landing on another planet, Wallace said.

One of the most dramatic moments is of the red-and-white parachute being shot from a canon-like launch device into the sky above the rover as the spacecraft is hurtling toward the ground at nearly two times the speed of sound.

The chute springs upward, unfurls and fully inflates in less than two seconds, with no evidence of tangling within its 2 miles (3.2 km) of tether lines, Chen said.

A downward-pointing camera shows the heat shield falling away and a sweeping vista of the butterscotch-colored Martian terrain, appearing to shift back and forth as the spacecraft sways under the parachute.

Seconds later, an upward-pointed camera captures the rocket-powered "sky-crane" vehicle, newly jettisoned from the parachute, its thrusters firing but the propellant plumes invisible to the human eye while lowering the rover to a safe landing spot on a harness of tethers.

A separate camera shows the lowering of the six-wheeled rover from the vantage point of the sky crane, looking downward as Perseverance dangles from its cable harness just over the surface with streams of dust billowing around it at touchdown. The sky crane is then seen flying up and away from the landing site after the harness cables are cut.

A single still photo of the rover suspended from the sky crane moments before landing was released by NASA on Friday amid much fanfare as a precursor to the video shown on Monday.

The only previous moving footage produced of a spacecraft during a Mars landing was a comparatively crude video shot from beneath the previous rover, Curiosity, during its descent to the planet's surface in 2012. That stop-motion-like sequence was shot at 3.5 frames per second from a single angle that showed the ground gradually getting closer but included no images of the parachute or sky-crane maneuvers.

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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 24,2021

cf94e49cf.jpg

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

Nasa releases video of Perseverance rover landing on Mars | Mars | The  Guardian

Washington, Feb 23: NASA scientists on Monday unveiled first-of-a-kind home movies of last week's daredevil Mars rover landing, vividly showing its supersonic parachute inflation over the red planet and a rocket-powered hovercraft lowering the science lab on wheels to the surface.

The footage was recorded on Thursday by a series of cameras mounted at different angles of the multi-stage spacecraft as it carried the rover, named Perseverance, through the thin Martian atmosphere to a gentle touchdown inside a vast basin called Jezero Crater.

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, called seeing the footage "the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit."

NASA also released the first audio from Mars, a faint wind sound captured by the rover.

The video montage was played for reporters tuning in to a news briefing webcast from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles four days after the historic landing of the most advanced astrobiology probe ever sent to another world.

You might have seen photos from Mars, but have you seen high-speed video?

🤩 We captured our @NASAPersevere rover’s final minutes of descent and landing in a way never seen before. Take a look: https://t.co/CQQtlWAzNF pic.twitter.com/uR3dtocwLF

— NASA (@NASA) February 23, 2021

NASA also presented a brief audio clip captured by microphones on the rover after its arrival that included the murmur of a light wind gust - the first ever recorded on the fourth planet from the sun.

JPL imaging scientist Justin Maki said NASA's stationary landing craft InSight, which arrived on Mars in 2018 to study its deep interior, previously measured seismic signals on the planet that were "acoustically driven" and then "rendered as audio."

But mission deputy project manager Matt Wallace said he believed the Martian breeze represented the first ambient sound directly recorded on the surface of Mars and played back for humans.

The spacecraft's mics failed to collect useable audio during descent to the crater floor. But they did pick up a mechanical whirring from the rover after its arrival. Wallace said he hoped to record other sounds, such as the rover's wheels crunching over the surface and its robotic arm drilling for samples of Martian rock.

'The stuff of our dreams'

But it was film footage from the spacecraft's perilous, self-guided ride through Martian skies to touchdown - an interval NASA has dubbed "the seven minutes of terror" - that JPL's team found particularly striking.

"These videos, and these images are the stuff of our dreams," Al Chen, head of the descent and landing team, told reporters. JPL Director Mike Watkins said engineers spent much of the weekend "binge-watching" the footage.

The video, filmed in color at 75 frames a second, shows action in fluid, vivid motion from several angles, the first such imagery ever recorded of a spacecraft landing on another planet, Wallace said.

One of the most dramatic moments is of the red-and-white parachute being shot from a canon-like launch device into the sky above the rover as the spacecraft is hurtling toward the ground at nearly two times the speed of sound.

The chute springs upward, unfurls and fully inflates in less than two seconds, with no evidence of tangling within its 2 miles (3.2 km) of tether lines, Chen said.

A downward-pointing camera shows the heat shield falling away and a sweeping vista of the butterscotch-colored Martian terrain, appearing to shift back and forth as the spacecraft sways under the parachute.

Seconds later, an upward-pointed camera captures the rocket-powered "sky-crane" vehicle, newly jettisoned from the parachute, its thrusters firing but the propellant plumes invisible to the human eye while lowering the rover to a safe landing spot on a harness of tethers.

A separate camera shows the lowering of the six-wheeled rover from the vantage point of the sky crane, looking downward as Perseverance dangles from its cable harness just over the surface with streams of dust billowing around it at touchdown. The sky crane is then seen flying up and away from the landing site after the harness cables are cut.

A single still photo of the rover suspended from the sky crane moments before landing was released by NASA on Friday amid much fanfare as a precursor to the video shown on Monday.

The only previous moving footage produced of a spacecraft during a Mars landing was a comparatively crude video shot from beneath the previous rover, Curiosity, during its descent to the planet's surface in 2012. That stop-motion-like sequence was shot at 3.5 frames per second from a single angle that showed the ground gradually getting closer but included no images of the parachute or sky-crane maneuvers.

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