Perseverance: New Nasa picture shows rover’s ‘terrifying’ landing on Mars

Andrew Griffin
Friday 19 February 2021 22:30
NASA rover returns its first images from Mars after historic landing
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Nasa has released a stunning image showing its Perseverance rover conducting its “terrifying” landing on Mars.

The images are part of a video that the space agency is expecting to release of the whole journey.

The full images – and, for the first time, audio – are still being sent back to Earth and processed by the space agency. It will be the first time the landing will be seen in moving video, after the Curiosity rover sent back stop-motion images of its descent.

But the new picture was taken from that footage and is the first look at the perilous landing on Mars.

It also comes ahead of the full opening of Perseverance’s cameras. On Friday, a number of pyrotechnic charges mounted on the rover should fire, letting its mast – or “head” – be released and allowing it to properly see the world.

That, in turn, will allow for the use of the Mastcam-Z, a zoomable camera, as well as a laser instrument called SuperCam. It also includes two navigation cameras that are used to drive the rover around the Martian surface.

The mast will be raised on Saturday and those Navcams will be able to take panoramas of the Martian surface, and the rovers place on it.

The first images that were sent back from the rover came from its engineering or hazard cameras, explaining the slightly low quality and fuzzy nature of the pictures that Nasa first revealed. They were also taken in the wake of the landing, as the dust was still settling and the cameras were covered by protective screens.

As the rover begins to fully wake up, engineers will keep watch on signals to ensure that it made it through its journey as expected, as well as updating its software adn testing out its instruments.

In the coming weeks, they will begin to test its robotic arm and start moving around the surface. In a month or two, the Perseverance team hope to find a flat location where it can drop off Ingenuity, a helicopter that is attached to its belly and is set to become the first ever craft to conduct a controlled flight on another planet.

All of the images being sent back from the rover – which are relayed by spacecraft orbiting Mars – are being posted by Nasa on a special website. Perseverance’s movements over the Martian surface can also be tracked.

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