This Is What It’s Like To Land on Mars

On February 18, 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars, becoming the fifth robotic rover to do so and the third operational exploration robot currently on the planet’s surface. Today during a press conference NASA released stunning high-definition video from Perseverance’s entry, descent, and landing (EDL) sequence to the anticipation and excitement of scientists and space enthusiasts alike. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out below…guaranteed it’s something you’ve never seen before!

The footage, captured by multiple cameras attached to the Mars 2020 rover as well as its backshell housing and sky crane descent vehicle, show in exquisite detail the events from its Feb. 18 landing in Jezero Crater. From the separation of the heat shield which first exposed the rover to the Martian environment to the deployment of the 70-foot-wide supersonic parachute and eventually its dust-blown tethered descent onto the surface of Mars, this level of detail has never been captured before in a planetary landing.

“This video of Perseverance’s descent is the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit. It should become mandatory viewing for young women and men who not only want to explore other worlds and build the spacecraft that will take them there, but also want to be part of the diverse teams achieving all the audacious goals in our future.”

— Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science
Diagram of the Mars 2020 EDL sequence (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Unfortunately the microphone attached to the backshell that was supposed to record the sounds of the decent and landing did not work. But another microphone on the rover itself did work, and thus we now have the first true audio recording from the surface of Mars, which captures the wind blowing across the landing site inside Jezero—along with some of the sound of the rover itself:

The first audio recording from the surface of Mars from NASA’s Perseverance rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

That metallic whining sound is from the rover’s heat rejection fluid pump, captured during a checkout of the microphone system. The deeper noises in the background are the ambient sounds of the Martian wind. Find more sounds from Mars as they’re uploaded here.

And while that’s playing, you can take a look at this: the first 360º panorama from Perseverance’s landing site, made with images captured with its navigation camera on February 20, 2021.

“Perseverance is just getting started, and already has provided some of the most iconic visuals in space exploration history. It reinforces the remarkable level of engineering and precision that is required to build and fly a vehicle to the Red Planet.”

— Steve Jurczyk, Acting NASA Administrator

Learn more about these images and sounds and follow along with the Mars 2020 mission here.

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