Miami, Feb 22 (efe-epa).- NASA on Monday released the first video of the landing of the Perseverance exploratory probe on Mars and also the first sounds recorded by the microphones installed in the space vehicle that made a fiery descent through the planet’s thin atmosphere but landed safely on the surface last week.
This is the first time ever that video has been recorded of a space probe landing on another world, according to NASA official Matt Wallace.
The video, NASA experts said at a press conference, provides evidence of the “violent” descent operation Perseverance went through, reducing its speed within seven minutes from 20,000 kilometers (12,400 miles) per hour to zero as it dropped from a height of 11 km (7 mi.) above the surface to land by parachute in a crater named Jezero on the Red Planet.
In one of the video images – captured with high-definition cameras on board the space probe – one can observe the opening of the supersonic parachutes after the capsule carrying the six-wheeled Perseverance rover entered the Martian atmosphere and then later the cloud of dust that puffed up as the probe neared and touched down on the planet’s surface.
Perseverance is the fifth rover vehicle deployed by NASA on Mars.
“Thousands” of images were included in the videos and scientists are presently analyzing them to begin classifying the rocks that can be seen, including ones that appear to be relatively lightweight and porous as well as dark chunks of regolith.
The now-dry Jezero crater was selected by NASA for the touchdown – and some of the exploration that the rover will carry out over at least the next two years because it is believed that an ancient lake once filled it, and ultimately the crater wall collapsed and the water flowed out, creating a delta to one side. And scientists think that where water once existed, so too may life have flourished.
Perseverance will look carefully for any potential signs of life and will collect rocks and soil samples that NASA plans to return to Earth on a future mission to the Red Planet.
During the press conference on Monday, NASA experts also played audio of the first sounds recorded on Feb. 20 on the surface of Mars thanks to the installation of two microphones on the rover, something that had never before been done on any other Mars probe.
In the first segment of audio, one can hear the vehicle descending through the atmosphere and the rushing sound of the wind as it approaches the planet’s surface, and in the second one slight sounds of wind are also heard but mainly there is silence as the probe rests in the very thin Martian atmosphere at the bottom of the crater.
Besides the new sights and sounds of the Martian surface, the images from the video, especially those of the landing, will occupy analysts for “years and years” as they seek to reduce the risks of future landing operations on foreign worlds.
Allen Chen, the head of the probe’s descent and landing team, said that although everything went as planned during the landing operation, certain details were noted that must be analyzed and improved upon, one of them related to the functioning of the parachutes, which nevertheless delivered Perseverance to the Martian surface undamaged.
The rocket carrying Perseverance lifted off from Earth in July 2020.