NASA releases jaw-dropping video and audio from Mars, with an assist from AWS

In Mars' Jezero Crater, a part of the panorama from NASA's Perseverance rover reveals its climate.

The closest vision is marginally distorted by the panoramic effect.

(NASA / Caltech-JPL)

NASA has documented footage of a rover landing on the surface of Mars for the first time, as well as wind sound whistles since landing — and Amazon Web Services plays a big part in ensuring that these gigabytes of goodness are available worldwide.

NASA's Perseverance Rover is the main stars of the show, and hundreds of scientists and engineers support the Mars trip to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other institutions worldwide.

However, it is a testament to AWS's success that thousands of photos were pumped out via NASA's website with just a few hiccups.

"AWS is proud to support NASA JPL's mission to perseverance," said Teresa Carlson, vice president of the world's public sector and markets at Amazon Web Services today in a blog post.

"From the very beginning, the AWS cloud services have allowed NASA JPL to capture and share mission-critical images and to answer key questions on the potential of life on Mars."

In the final minutes of Perseverance's journey to Jezero Crater on Mars, over 23,000 photos of 30 gigabytes of data were obtained, Dave Gruel, the camera suite chief on entry, descent and landing at JPL, said.

Several cameras looked up from the rear of the spacecraft to film the parachute deployment.

From the "Sky Crane" downstairs, another camera stared down to watch the rover touchdown.

In the meantime, cameras on the rover looked up to the Sky Crane and looked down and watched its setting.

All those viewpoints were collected in a three-minute video recording the landmarks of the downhill, from the moment when the parachute opened to the dusty landing of the rover.

In the end, a video on the rover shows the downhill level, powered by a series of channels designed in Redmond, Wash by Aerojet Rocketdyne.

"Every time I see it, it gives me goosebumps," said Gruel at today's COVID-19 press conference at the JPL in Pasadena, California. "I trust everyone kept their hands and their arm inside the vehicle all the time, while it was in motion."

This is not all: a modified off-shelf microphone has been hooked up to the rover to capture the sound of the falling air.

It was not reported when the rover fell, but once Perseverance stabilized at its landing, the microphone caught the vortex of the Martian wind.

Gruel said the features of the sounds mean that the tastes were around 11 mi/h (5 meters per second).

As the mission progresses, the microphone will be able to record the rock crunch under the rover's wheels, says Deputy Project Manager Matt Wallace.

Video and audio have also reached new ground for NASA: while footage of descent from previous space odysseys like the Apollo moon missions and the Mars Curiosity rover mission has been available, it was the first time that a robotic video camera has specifically recorded the moment of touchdown on another earth.

The soviet landers recorded sounds on the surface of Venus during the Huygens lander descent to Titan surface; and in NASA's Mars InSight lander, wind movements were recorded using an air pressurized sensor.

Yet Perseverance is the first to pick up directly with a microphone the sounds of Martian winds.

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Associate Space Science Administrator, said it's "how you feel about making history."

"The video of the descent and landing of Perseverance and the amazing panorama of Jezero Crater's first wide scenery seen with a human eye, and the first Martian sounds are the nearest to Mars, without putting a pressure suit," Zurbuchen says.

The release of raw images, video and sounds can fire the imagination not only for future space journeys, but also for imaginative crowdsourcing.

"Please check these data and play with them, especially those of you who have subscribed to our educational campaign," Zurbuchen said.

"What are these images that you will find?

And who will compose the first piece of music with the true sound of Mars?

"(Do you count this?)

During the first few days of the mission the lack of photographs released by the Perseverance team was a little grumbling.

But today the situation shifted dramatically: raw photographs in NASA's Perseverance Gallery soared over just a few hours from under 200 to over 4,600.

NASA uses its cloud computing software to process image data from Mars and to power the NASA's Mars mission portal, according to Amazon Web Services.

"The website may be expanded to meet demand at any time and millions of visitors are expected during peak times," said AWS.

The NASA's Perseverance rover navigation cameras caught the view of the rover deck on Feb. 20.

This view offers a clear view of the PIXL instrument on the stowed robotic arm of the rover.

(NASA / Caltech-JPL)

The Perseverance plutonium-powered probe is only 4 days into a mission that is expected to last at least two years on Earth and potentially much longer.

The key purpose of the $2.7 billion mission is to find and store fossils that may be evidence of the previous life on Mars.

NASA plans to return these samples to the Earth for a comprehensive laboratory analysis of about a decade.

The Research Team leaders of Perseverance state that they are now seeing interesting geological components to delve into, including a number of volcanic "holey" rocks.

"Whether they're volcanic rocks, it's extremely important for us, as it could provide the opportunity for a really nice radiometric age, or a real date if such a sample comes back to Earth," said Ken Williford, Deputy project scientist.

Check Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log for an extended play version of this study, which includes more photos from the Perseverance rover and NASA's Mars Reconnaissance orbiter.

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