Mars Landing
This combination of images from video made available by NASA shows steps in the descent of the Mars Perseverance rover as it approaches the surface of the planet on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

NASA releases Mars landing video


NASA on Monday released the first high-quality video of a spacecraft landing on Mars, a three-minute trailer showing the enormous orange and white parachute hurtling open and the red dust kicking up as rocket engines lowered the rover to the surface.

The footage was so good — and the images so breathtaking — that members of the rover team said they felt like they were riding along.

“It gives me goose bumps every time I see it, just amazing,” said Dave Gruel, head of the entry and descent camera team.

The Perseverance rover landed last Thursday near an ancient river delta in Jezero Crater to search for signs of ancient microscopic life. After spending the weekend binge-watching the descent and landing video, the team at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, shared the video at a news conference.

“These videos and these images are the stuff of our dreams," said Al Chen, who was in charge of the landing team.

Six off-the-shelf color cameras were devoted to entry, descent and landing, looking up and down from different perspectives. All but one camera worked. The lone microphone turned on for landing failed, but NASA got some snippets of sound after touchdown: the whirring of the rover’s systems and wind gusts.

Flight controllers were thrilled with the thousands of images beamed back — and also with the remarkably good condition of NASA's biggest and most capable rover yet. It will spend the next two years exploring the dry river delta and drilling into rocks that may hold evidence of life 3 billion to 4 billion years ago. The core samples will be set aside for return to Earth in a decade.

NASA added 25 cameras to the $3 billion mission — the most ever sent to Mars. The space agency's previous rover, 2012's Curiosity, managed only jerky, grainy stop-motion images, mostly of terrain. Curiosity is still working. So is NASA's InSight lander, although it's hampered by dusty solar panels.

They may have company in late spring, when China attempts to land its own rover, which went into orbit around Mars two weeks ago.

Deputy project manager Matt Wallace said he was inspired several years ago to film Perseverance's harrowing descent when his young gymnast daughter wore a camera while performing a backflip.

Some of the spacecraft systems — like the sky crane used to lower the rover onto the Martian surface — could not be tested on Earth.

“So this is the first time we’ve had a chance as engineers to actually see what we designed,” Wallace told reporters.

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s science mission chief, said the video and also the panoramic views following touchdown “are the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit.”

The images will help NASA prepare for astronaut flights to Mars in the decades ahead, according to the engineers.

There's a more immediate benefit.

“I know it's been a tough year for everybody,” said imaging scientist Justin Maki, “and we're hoping that maybe these images will help brighten people's days.”

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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So Awesome! - “We Come in Peace!”

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Best experience of This Life was ‘skydiving’ and slowly ‘parachuting’ to the ground.

Now, we can do it on Mars! Awesome!!

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Pretty amazing stuff.

(The Chinese have been doing something similar, I hear...)

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Wouldn’t it be nice to produce a ‘souvenir video’ for ‘our neighbors’ when they descend to Mars in April/May??

NASA will the ‘Ingenuity’ ascender deployed and working before ‘the next lander’ gets there.

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Finally, half a century after its moon-landing saga, NASA has redeemed a bit of its past space glory after releasing the Mars landing video..

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Love the landing video with the different views tied into the narration that we heard LIVE (11 min delay) on Earth.

Love they used 6 off-the-shelf cameras for the mostly throw-away aspects of landing - 5 of the 6 worked. Doesn't look red. Sky is almost blue, but not. Too bad the 1 microphone didn't work at all.

There are 2 other new Mars missions there now - one from China with a lander and one from the UAE, an orbiter, in collaboration U Colorado and ASU (AZ, not Alaska or Arkansas) and UC Berkley. China's landing is planned for something this May.

NASA is posting thousands of 4600+ raw images that anyone in the world can grab, view, use, process. NASA images don't have any copyright, so free to use worldwide.

Love they have a Mars Weather summary - high temp 18 degF today; about -8 degC. Low temp was -101 degF (-73 degC) - brrrrrr. Sunny spring time for the MSL on MED: 3035.

Can't wait for the helicopter photos, even though it has average cameras and isn't specifically for "science" - everyone loves a good selfie, right?

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Less bouncy than the descent to the “Red Planet” with Val Kilmer.

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They're very forthcoming with information

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I keep waiting for the day when a mission from Earth lands on another planet far away, and after a successful landing turns on its camera, scans the horizon and finds a lander from another world is already there, maybe with its own rover driving over to have a look at the new arrival.

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