Space agency also reveals audio recorded by Perseverance on surface of red planet
Nasa has unveiled a first-of-its-kind video of its car-sized rover Perseverance making its sensational landing on Mars, and released the first audio recorded on the surface of the red planet.
The American space agency shared the footage on Monday, days after the spacecraft made its dramatic descent to the Martian surface.
The robotic vehicle sailed through space for nearly seven months, covering 293m miles (472m km) before piercing the Martian atmosphere at 12,000mph (19,000km/h) to begin its approach to touchdown on Mars, with the help of a parachute, booster rockets and a sky crane.
Perseverance – fondly known as Percy – landed with “eyes open” taking images of the surface to choose its landing spot. Weighing more than a tonne, it landed nearly in the middle of the landing zone inside the 28 mile-wide (45km) Jezero crater north of the planet’s equator, which billions of years ago is believed to have housed a Martian lake bed.
Nasa scientists also shared – for the very first time – the sounds of Mars, a feat never achieved before on another world.
“The amazing panorama and the first … landscape shot of the Jezero crater seen with human eyes and the first Martian sounds are the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit,” said Dr Thomas Zurbuchen, Nasa’s associate administrator for the science mission directorate.
“The video, I believe, should become mandatory viewing for young people who don’t only want to explore outer worlds, and build spacecraft to take them there, but also want to be part of diverse teams achieving all the audacious goals of our future.”
Perseverance was pronounced “healthy” by Nasa scientists. Over the weekend, said Jessica Samuels, the rover’s surface mission manager, scientists executed 5,000 instructions for the vehicle to perform in the hostile environment of the cold, dry, planet. “And … everything came back exactly how we’ve been wanting it to.”
Looking ahead, further testing will be done, including wiggling the rover’s wheels, deploying its robotic arm, as well as a short drive, she added.
Ingenuity – a diminutive 1.8kg drone-like helicopter attached to the rover’s belly – has also been checked out and had its batteries charged for the first time, Samuels said.
The rotorcraft, designed to claw into the thin Martian air with four 1.2-metre-long carbon-fibre blades spinning at 2,400rpm, could serve as a “pathfinder” to discover inaccessible areas or as a scout for future rovers.
The $2.7bn rover – whose primary aim is to search for ancient signs of life – also produced some spectacular panoramic imagery courtesy of its 20-megapixel colour cameras detailing the peaks and troughs of Mars’ dimpled surface.