NASA has posted a highlights reel (above) showing the final nail-biting moments at Mission Control in California as the team waited for confirmation that its Perseverance rover had landed safely on the surface of Mars.
The video, which mixes animated footage of the landing procedure with clips from Mission Control captured as the rover approached the Martian surface, also includes the very first image from Perseverance beamed back just a few moments after touchdown. The image isn’t the greatest quality, but that because it’s from the rover’s hazard camera, which will help the vehicle drive around Mars. Before long, we should be receiving full color, high-definition imagery, and video too.
Perseverance landed on Mars mid-afternoon ET on Thursday, February 18, marking the end of a six-and-a-half-month space voyage.
The most challenging part of the journey came at the very end when the spacecraft carrying the rover entered what’s known as the “seven minutes of terror.” During this period, the spacecraft had to autonomously perform a series of carefully timed maneuvers and at the same time deal with extreme speed and temperature changes as it descended to Mars’ Jezero Crater.
The highlights video shows the team’s jubilation when news came through from the red planet, currently around 125 million miles away, of the rover’s successful landing.
The mission, overseen by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will soon see the highly advanced Perseverance rover searching the surface of Mars for signs of ancient life, as well as collecting Mars samples for later return to Earth. Perseverance is also carrying with it a small drone-like vehicle called Ingenuity that will soon attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.
“This landing is one of those pivotal moments for NASA, the United States, and space exploration globally — when we know we are on the cusp of discovery and sharpening our pencils, so to speak, to rewrite the textbooks,” acting NASA administrator Steve Jurczyk said after the rover’s safe arrival.
Jurczyk added: “The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission embodies our nation’s spirit of persevering even in the most challenging of situations, inspiring, and advancing science and exploration. The mission itself personifies the human ideal of persevering toward the future and will help us prepare for human exploration of the red planet.”
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