The first video and color photographs of Perseverance landing on Mars on Monday were revealed by NASA, followed by the first sound recording of the surface of Mars.
The video, played at a news conference, showed the spacecraft blasting red dirt away as it landed on Mars’ surface on February 18, following a landing sequence identified by NASA staff as anticipated, including a small amount of rocking back and forth and throttling of the engine.
For almost seven months, the rover traveled through space, covering 472 million km (293 million miles) before landing safely on Mars at 19,000 km/h (12,000 mph).
Al Chen, systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the Entry, Descent, and Landing Systems and Advanced Technologies division, said that “we could spend all day looking at the images.”
Chen said the data coming from Mars offered a “rich treasure trove” of the surface of the red planet’s images and sounds.
Viewers were advised to watch the videos in order to observe these information at slow speeds.
The sounds captured by the rover revealed the planet’s bleak soundscape, featuring a heavy Martian wind gust and nothing else.
The Perseverance is the fifth research rover for NASA’s Mars, which is the most sophisticated astrobiology laboratory ever sent to an alien planet. There have been 49 missions from nine nations to Mars since 1960.
It cost $2.7bn for the rover and the accompanying software and took two years to construct.
In ancient sediments taken from Martian rock by Perseverance, NASA is hoping to find potential evidence of rudimentary life, including signs of microbes.
The specimens will be the first to be obtained from an alien planet by humans.
Two further trips to Mars have been arranged by NASA to collect the specimens and return them to Earth. Over the next decade, those potential trips are scheduled.
At the news conference, Justin Maki, a JPL scientist who has worked on all five Mars rover missions, said that he knew 2020 was a tough year for the planet and hoped that the photos of Perseverance, which are publicly accessible, would help ease the pain.
“We are so happy and proud … we hope these images will help brighten people’s day.”