Less than 24 hours after NASA’s science rover Perseverance landed on Mars, the United States space agency released a number of colourful images of the Red Planet.
The spacecraft has been equipped with a record 25 cameras and two microphones. Several of these cameras were turned on during the rover’s descent to the planet, thereby capturing striking images which show phenomenal details of the rover’s landing till about 2 meters off the ground. The landing photo was taken by a camera placed on the “sky crane” descent-stage, just above the rover.
The images were snapped during the crucial last minutes of the rover’s descent, also referred to as the “seven minutes of terror”, when it was travelling at 12,000 miles per hour.
Speaking at a NASA news briefing where the images were unveiled, flight system engineer Aaron Stehura said, “This is something that we’ve never seen before. It was stunning, and the team was awestruck. There’s just a feeling of victory that we were able to capture these and share it with the world.”
Calling the image “iconic” and comparable to the snap of Apollo 11 in 1969, Adam Steltzner, chief engineer for the Perseverance project said, “You are brought to the surface of Mars. You’re sitting there, seven meters off the surface of the rover looking down.”
NASA has promised to reveal more photos and possible audio recordings in the next few days.
The perseverance rover, which is the most advanced astrobiology laboratory ever sent to another world, safely landed on the Martian surface in the early hours of Thursday. Touching down near an ancient river delta, the rover will search for traces of ancient life and will gather the most vital rock samples for a possible return to Earth.
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(With inputs from agencies)
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