If NASA’s landing of the Perseverance vehicle on the surface of Mars this week wasn’t impressive enough, the space agency has just released dramatic footage of the entry and landing sequence shot from the vehicle itself. Although the narration gives the impression of the imagery happening in real time, the video is actually occurring about 11 minutes after the fact to account for radio transmission delay. For its EDL phase (entry, descent and landing), the vehicle flies entirely autonomously, with no possibility of command or control from Earth.
Perseverance entered the thin Martian atmosphere directly from its cruise trajectory from Earth and the EDL phase occurred over about seven minutes. The sequence begins with the “straighten-up-and-fly-right” maneuver, which positions the spacecraft to give the vehicle’s landing radar a look at the surface. The video shows high-definition footage of the spacecraft’s supersonic parachute deployment that begins at a speed of about 900 MPH and 40,000 feet above the surface. For this mission, NASA used a new technique called range trigger, which uses ground radar to time parachute deployment to refine target accuracy. Descent under the parachute is at 325 MPH in an atmosphere no denser than Earth’s is at about 100,000 feet.
The camera view of the landing shows a detailed view of the surface from an altitude beginning at about 31,000 feet and follows the landing through the divert maneuver that keeps the parachute from landing on and fouling the rover. The so-called skycrane rocket phase that lowers the rover itself to the surface on a cable array is also visible. As the landing system approaches the surface, its exhaust is seen kicking up red dust. In addition to the actual landing, NASA also prepared this animated video describing an outside view of the entire sequence.
Having watched NASA’s live coverage of the landings for both the Opportunity and Perseverance rovers I would have to say that the one for Opportunity was done much better and was easier to follow. The individual who was providing the play-by-play announcements for the current one for Perseverance was just trying to provide too much info. In her attempt to provide a constant update on info like altitude and time to touch down, the callouts for the major events (e.g. heat shield sep, chute deploy, sky crane, etc…) were almost lost or sounded like asides. The gentleman who did the play-by-play for Opportunity did a much better job, simply making callouts to indicate when those events occurred. It made for a more suspenseful experience. Sometimes less is more 😊
Jim … I had no idea that you were a misogynist! 🙂 I’m going to have to turn you into the WOKE police for reprogramming.
Just kidding ! 🙂
It IS amazing. And anyone who understands that RF travels at close to the speed of light yet the signal takes 11 minutes to get back to earth would find it even more incredible. Good job, NASA. Maybe Elon should hire some of your programmers?
A key event is the jettisoning of the parachute, and the successful firing of the sky crane engines. Yet, in this video it’s really hard to tell when this key event happens. Also, the announcer never mentions the purpose of the divert maneuver, which is to keep the parachute from accidentally landing on top of the rover. Lastly, just curious, why is the announcer’s voice cutting out, like she’s orbiting mars? Asking for a friend…..
Amazing. Gave me the very same feelings as when I watched the moon landing live in 1969, black & white on the Armed Forces Network, while serving with the US Army in Landstuhl, Germany. Altho 52 years ago, I can still recall it, almost as if it had just happened yesterday.