Perseverance delivers the first video of a landing on Mars (VIDEO)
Extraordinary “, “fantastic”, “a dream”… NASA engineers did not lack qualifiers for the images – it is true historical – unveiled Monday evening. For the first time, the landing of a spacecraft on Mars could be captured on video, thanks to the five on-board cameras. The three-minute video begins at about 12 km altitude, with the deployment of the parachute – the largest ever used outside Earth – which causes the “ship” to slow down to a speed of 450 meters per second (photo 1 ). A mass then suddenly obscures the lens of the camera. It is the shield protecting from the extreme heat the vehicle which has just been detached and which falls towards the surface (2) of Mars, transforming itself little by little into a point. The Perseverance robot and the rest of its accessories slow down again, only to fall below the speed of sound. The lack of a shield now allows him, thanks to radar and cameras, to take a first look at the surface. We begin to distinguish the relief – hollows and bumps – of the red planet, as it approaches it (3). During this descent, the rover, whose pendulum movement can be seen at the end of its parachute, initializes its automatic navigation system, allowing it to “recognize” the terrain (and to choose the least dangerous to land), and initiates the engines for the landing itself. We are there a little over 4 km from the surface. A small jolt: it is the separation from the hull that surrounded the rover. Last landmark moment? At an altitude of 20 m, the astonishing “Skycrane” maneuver, where the actual mobile robot is detached from a sort of crane flying in place which gently places it on the ground (4) using cables. In the images, one can even observe the effect of the retro-rocket plume of the “crane” raising dust and small rocks, which must have been there for billions of years.