The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released the first audio and video footage Monday from its Perseverance rover which landed on Mars last week.
The three and a half minutes of video footage showed parachute deployment and the Perseverance’s touchdown last Thursday on the planet. The video ends with the Perseverance’s wheels making contact with the surface of Mars.
— NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 22, 2021
A microphone on the rover also provided the first audio recording of sounds from the Red Planet. Although the microphone did not collect usable data during the descent, a breeze on the planet could be heard for a few seconds, in addition to mechanical sounds of the rover operating on the surface, NASA said in a statement.
The footage from high-definition cameras aboard the spacecraft started 7 miles (11 kilometers) above the surface of Mars, showing the supersonic deployment of the most massive parachute ever sent to another world.
“This video of the Perseverance’s descent is the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters, said in the statement.
Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said the “Perseverance is just getting started and already has provided some of the most iconic visuals in space exploration history.”
The rover touched down at the massive Jezero Crater, which scientists believe could contain signs of ancient microbial life for which the Perseverance is looking. The crater was once the site of a sprawling lake and river delta that theoretically would have hosted optimal conditions for microorganisms to live and be preserved.
The Perseverance’s journey to Mars took nearly seven months, and it will now begin the process of collecting rock core samples that will be stored in metal tubes for return to Earth on future missions.
The samples are key to understanding whether life once existed on the planet the US now hopes to send humans to as early as the 2030s.