NASA’s Perseverance rover may only just have arrived on Mars this week, but it’s already busy exploring its environment. And the engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have been busy as well, processing the first images from the various cameras on board the rover.
Perhaps the most exciting image released so far is a sneak preview of footage of the landing itself, captured from a never-before-seen angle. Perseverance is the first rover to have multiple cameras on its Entry, Descent, and Landing system which should have recorded footage of the landing as it happened. We may even be able to watch video of the landing from the rover’s perspective soon.
To whet your appetite, JPL released this incredible still image of the rover dangling over the Martian surface as it headed toward the ground.
Gregorio Villar, systems engineer for the Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) team at JPL, previously told Digital Trends about his excitement to see footage from the cameras on the EDL system. He said the cameras had been fitted on a “best effort basis,” with the engineers hopeful that they would capture impressive footage but not entirely certain they would work, and he described them as “a cherry on top for the mission.”
From the looks of the first still image that has been released, it seems that the cameras may even have exceeded expectations, capturing a beautiful, crisp color image of the rover as it is lowered on cables from the jetpack-like descent stage in a landing procedure called the skycrane maneuver.
We can expect to see more images and videos of the landing in the future, as there were seven cameras on different parts of the hardware. Villar previously said the footage he was most keen to see was from the three cameras on top of the capsule pointed upward, as they should have captured the deployment of the supersonic parachute which engineers have never seen happen on Mars before.
More data from the EDL cameras, not to mention all of the other cameras on Perseverance like its science and engineering cameras, should come through in the next few days and weeks, which JPL plans to share with the public.
As for the rover itself, it is currently healthy and well, with everything working as expected. The next important step in the mission is the release of its mast, which holds two navigation cameras as well as two science instruments, SuperCam and Mastcam-Z. The mast will be raised into position today, Saturday, February 20. Then we should be in for a treat of panoramic images of the rover’s surroundings captured by the navigation cameras.
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