Feb 22, 2021 - Science

Watch and listen to Perseverance's first moments on Mars

When NASA's Perseverance rover landed on Mars Thursday, a set of cameras captured the car-sized spacecraft's descent and landing on the Red Planet.

Why it matters: This is the first time this type of high-quality footage has been captured.

Catch up quick: Perseverance landed on Mars in much the same way as its counterpart on the Red Planet, Curiosity.

  • NASA made use of a supersonic parachute and a small rocket that slowed the rover's descent and used cables to softly lower it to the ground.
  • The rover landed in a crater thought to be one of the best places on Mars to hunt for signs of past life.

Driving the news: The cameras tasked with capturing the landing sent back about 30 gigabytes of footage from Perseverance's landing to waiting scientists on Earth.

  • “This video of Perseverance’s descent is the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, said in a statement.
  • Perseverance also recorded the first sounds from Mars not long after making it to the surface.

The big picture: The video and audio captured from Mars has more than just public value. Scientists are also hoping to use both as diagnostic and scientific tools on Mars.

  • Engineers will be able to pore over the landing video from Perseverance to tease out exactly how the system worked on the Red Planet.
  • Future rovers might carry microphones to Mars "because everybody knows that when you hear something squeaking, it's diagnostic," Justin Maki, Perseverance imaging scientist, said during a press conference Monday. "Maybe you need to check it out."

What's next: NASA is planning to continue uploading photos and turning the rover's microphones on as it gets to work on Mars.

  • "I hope it does survive long enough so that we can hear those wheels crunch over the surface of the planet," Matt Wallace, Perseverance deputy project manager, said during the press conference.
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