Skip to main content

Relive NASA’s extraordinary Mars rover landing, one year on

On Friday, February 18, it will be a year to the day since NASA’s Perseverance rover made its extraordinary landing on Mars.

Extraordinary not only for NASA’s feat of successfully landing its most advanced rover to date on the red planet but also for the simply stunning video footage that showed the vehicle in its final stages of descent.

Thanks to a multitude of high-definition cameras fixed to the descent stage (also called the skycrane) and Perseverance itself, the video provided the best view ever seen of a human-made object landing on the surface of another celestial body.

The final moments of Perseverance’s six-month voyage from Earth were described by NASA as “seven minutes of terror,” so crucial and challenging was the all-important descent onto Mars’ Jezero Crater.

Exactly a year on, we thought it’d be fun to take another look at the footage showing that incredible landing. It features Mission Control’s audio feed together with the team’s ecstatic celebrations when confirmation of the successful touchdown came through.

The diagram below shows the three sections that made the landing possible, and also shows the position of all of the cameras that captured the final stages of Perseverance’s descent.

The cameras that captured Perserverance's Mars landing in February 2020.
NASA

The footage starts with the deployment of the parachute linked to the back shell. A short while later, we see the heat shield, which protected Perseverance from its high-speed entry into Mars’ atmosphere, falling to the ground.

Just 2o meters from the surface, Martian dust is kicked up by the descent stage’s thrusters, which enable it to hover as it carefully lowers Perseverance to the ground.

As the rover’s six wheels make contact with Mars for the first time, we see the descent stage release the attached cables and rapidly fly away.

Below is another video of the landing featuring extra footage.

After setting down on Mars, Perseverance beamed back the first 360-degree view of its new surroundings.

NASA’S Perseverance Rover’s First 360 View of Mars (Official)

Since then, NASA’s rover has been exploring Jezero Crater as it searches for signs of ancient microbial life and collects rock samples for return to Earth in a later mission. Perseverance also brought with it Ingenuity, a drone-like helicopter that last April became the first aircraft to achieve powered, controlled flight on another planet.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
The NASA Mars helicopter’s work is not done, it turns out
The Ingenuity helicopter on the surface of Mars, in an image taken by the Perseverance rover. Ingenuity recently made its 50th flight.

NASA’s Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, has been grounded since January 18 after suffering damage to one of its rotors as it came in to land.

The team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which oversees the Ingenuity mission, celebrated the plucky helicopter for achieving way more flights on the red planet than anyone had expected -- 72 in all -- and becoming the first aircraft to achieve powered, controlled flight on another planet.

Read more
NASA astronauts need good weather for Crew-8 launch. Here’s how it’s looking
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket during a static fire test.

UPDATE: SpaceX and NASA are now targeting 11:16 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 2 for the launch of Crew-8.

SpaceX is preparing to launch three NASA astronauts and one Roscosmos cosmonaut to the International Space Station (ISS).

Read more
U.S. spacecraft lands on the moon for the first time in over 50 years
Intuitive Machines' Odysseus lander heads to the moon.

The U.S. company Intuitive Machines made a historic landing on the moon today. Intuitive Machines' Odysseus lander, launched earlier this month, touched down on the moon's surface at 6:23 p.m. ET, marking the U.S.'s first lunar landing since Apollo 17 in 1972 and the first landing on the moon by a commercial entity.

The Odysseus lander is part of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, which provides contracts to companies for lunar services, and it carries a number of NASA scientific instruments. It has landed on the moon's south pole, which is an area of particular scientific interest as it hosts water ice and is the region where NASA plans to land astronauts under its Artemis program.

Read more