With a pandemic still raging and plenty else to bring down the spirits happening on this planet, we finally get some news from outer space. Mars, in particular.
Last Thursday, NASA landed a rover called Perseverance on the surface of the Red Planet. While this is not a first, success isn’t always the case in missions like this, so it is kind of a big deal.
On Monday, NASA released a video of the successful landing (releasing such a video is a first):
Perseverance launched from Earth seven months ago, has six wheels and is roughly the size of a small car. It also carries a Mars helicopter called Ingenuity which will make the first-ever powered flight on another planet as it plans the best routes for future Mars rovers.
The rover also carries quite a bit of high tech equipment to take and analyze samples as well as to photograph the Martian environment. Most notable of the photo equipment is the Mastcam-Z, which has already produced two 360 Panorama shots on the surface, like this one taken in the Jezero Crater:
You can see all the images and panoramas and download them as extremely high res images through the NASA website.
NASA has also released audio from Mars through its SoundCloud channel (yes, NASA has a SoundCloud channel). One includes the noise the rover makes itself and this one excludes it, to give you an idea of what Mars sounds like:
Perseverance’s primary mission is to “seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for possible return to Earth. ” It has one Martian year, or 687 Earth days to complete it.
Hopefully this means we’ll be getting more images. It’s nice not to write an op-ed about something that pisses me off, but rather about something interesting and inspirational. Even if the story comes from another planet.