NASA releases Mars landing video: 'Stuff of our dreams'
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL (AP)—NASA released on Monday the first quality footage of a spacecraft landing on Mars, a 3-minute trailer that shows the massive orange and white parachute hurling on the surface and the red dust kicks in as the rover was lowered by rocket engines.
The video was so good—and the photos so amazing—that rover team members said that they felt like riding along.
"Each time I see it it, it gives me bumps of goose, just awesome," said Dave Gruel, the head of the camera entry and descent squad.
Last Thursday, the Perseverance rover arrived near an old river delta in Jezero Crater to check for evidence of the old microscopic life.
After the weekend, the staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, shared the footage at a news conference.
"These pictures and videos are the things that we dream of," said Al Chen, head of the landing team.
Six color cameras off-shelf dedicated to entry, descent and arrival, gazing up and down from multiple angles. All but one cameras were working. The lonely microphone flipped on missed for landing, but NASA got some sound snippets after touch-down: rover whirring and gusts of the wind.
Flight controllers were pleased by the thousands of pictures that were beamed back — as well as the amazingly good health of NASA's best and most capable rover. In the next two years, they will be discovering the dry river delta and boiling into rocks that may be evidence of their life from 3-4 billion years ago.
NASA has added 25 cameras to a 3 billion dollar mission—the most ever sent to Mars. The last rover of the space agency, 2012, is Curiosity, with only jerky, grainy stop-motion pictures, mainly landscape. Curiosity is still running.
In late spring, they may have company as China decides to land a rover of its own, which orbited around Mars two weeks ago.
Deputy project manager, Matt Wallace, said he was motivated to shoot a harrowing plunge of Perseverance when his young daughter was carrying a mask in a backflip.
Certain spacecraft structures – like the sky crane that had lowered the rover to the surface of Martia – could not be checked on Earth.
"We had the first chance as engineers to see what we designed," reporters Wallace said.
The video and even the panoramic views after landing, Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's Science Task Chief, says "are the closest you can get to Mars without putting in a pressure suit."
According to the engineers, the photographs help NASA prepare for astronaut flights to Mars in the decades to come.
There is a more immediate gain.
"I know it was a tough year for all," photo scientist Justin Maki said, "and hopefully perhaps these pictures will make people's days lighter."
The Related Department of Press Health and Research is funded by the Department of Science Education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.