NASA unveiled the first video and audio recordings from its Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars last week.
Among the content released on Monday is a video showing Perseverance land on the red planet after a journey of millions of miles from Earth.
The high-quality footage shows the rover’s parachute being deployed before its heat shield is dropped away. It also shows the robot’s soft landing, which can be seen kicking up orange Martian dust.
NASA also shared the first audio ever recorded on Mars. The recording captured the sound of a gust of wind on the sand-swept surface. However, the rover’s microphone was unable to pick up “usable data” from the actual landing process, according to CNN.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement that the video footage of Perseverance’s descent, which was captured using the rover’s 23 cameras, “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,” he added.
The rover landed last Thursday, marking the fifth time that NASA has successfully placed such a device on the Martian surface. Perseverance will be scouring an ancient river delta in Mars’s Jezero Crater for signs of microbial life and “paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet," NASA said.
The rover sent out its first black-and-white images from Mars soon after landing, and the following day, NASA released Perseverance’s first color photos, which showed the planet’s horizon, a “selfie” of the craft, and detailed pictures of Martian rocks, which are another point of inquiry for the rover.
According to the space agency, Perseverance will gather and store Martian core rock samples in tubes and then deposit them in a "cache" on the planet surface so that future missions can collect them and return them to earth for study. NASA hopes this can happen by 2031.
“I love rocks. Look at these right next to my wheel. Are they volcanic or sedimentary? What story do they tell? Can’t wait to find out,” a Twitter account created by scientists for the rover said.
I love rocks. Look at these right next to my wheel. Are they volcanic or sedimentary? What story do they tell? Can’t wait to find out.#CountdownToMarshttps://t.co/7w3rbvbyoL pic.twitter.com/H3q1M0YJAd— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 19, 2021
Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk hailed the successful video capture of Perseverance’s landing and noted that the rover’s mission has only just begun.
“Perseverance is just getting started, and already has provided some of the most iconic visuals in space exploration history,” Jurczyk said. “It reinforces the remarkable level of engineering and precision that is required to build and fly a vehicle to the Red Planet."