NASA has shown a first photo of the sky crane maneuver that successfully put Mars rover Perseverance on the red planet on Thursday evening. It is the first time that the landing technique comes into the picture.
In 2012, Mars rover Curiosity successfully landed on Mars with the complicated sky crane maneuver, but that rover had no cameras in places to capture it. Mars rover Perseverance, which landed in a largely similar manner on Thursday evening, has seven cameras specially installed to capture the spectacular landing.
The first photo of that landing procedure has now been sent back to Earth . It shows Perseverance dangling from three nylon cables, under the descent stage . This is a kind of jetpack , which floats in the air with brake missiles and gently lifts the Mars rover down like a kind of crane.
Perseverance dangles from the sky crane a few meters above the Martian surface . Photo: NASA
In addition to the three nylon cables, a fourth cable can be seen. This is the so-called umbilical cord with which the Mars rover is in contact with its crane. The moment Perseverance hit ground, all cables were disconnected and the descent stage flew up and to the side, only to crash ‘safely’ ahead.
The photo released is part of a video taken during the landing. The images come in drop by drop; due to the long distance to Mars, the possibilities for transmitting data are limited. More images and possibly videos will become available in the coming days. Sound was also recorded during the landing.
The first color photos of Perseverance have also arrived. These are recordings from the Hazcams, which are intended to observe the environment and inspect the wheels. Later on Friday, a number of explosive bolts will go off, after which the mast on top of the Mars rover will be folded up. There are several cameras and instruments on that mast, including a zoom camera. On Saturday Perseverance will make the first panoramic photos of its surroundings with it.
While landing on the parachute, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which orbits the red planet every 112 minutes, took a photo. It shows the landing area and the parachute with the descent stage below it.
Perseverance landing photographed by the MRO. Photo: NASA
Perseverance has landed in the Jezero crater on Mars , about two kilometers from what would have been a former river delta. Perseverance will conduct research there. Landing was deliberately located at a distance from the delta in order to place the Mars rover in a safe place with an even surface. Also on the way from the landing area to the river delta, there are several areas that NASA wants to investigate.
Landing site of Perseverance in the Jezero crater. Image: NASA
NASA has also released a photo Perseverance took during landing with its Lander Vision System Camera. He is under the rover and took pictures of the surface during the descent. The Mars rover has a database on board with images of the environment previously made with satellites. This allowed Perseverance to compare images and select a safe landing site on the autopilot. The red parts indicate areas where landing is not safe, for example due to rocks. The green dot is the landing site.
Photo of the Lander Vision System Camera
NASA showed the images Friday during a press conference about Perseverance’s first day on Mars. In it, NASA experts tell about the landing and provide answers to questions