NASA has released new images of the Perseverance rover two metres above the surface of Mars as it gave more details of the mission.
The US space agency’s robot successfully landed on the Red Planet just before 1pm local time on Thursday.
Speaking at a news briefing in California on Friday, NASA officials revealed the rover landed 2km (1.24 miles) from the ancient river delta it was aiming for.
The team also released the three first colour pictures of the landing, which they hope will go down in history with the likes of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon.
One picture shows the rover in its final stages of being lowered on to the surface, just two metres off the ground.
A second, taken by the robot’s front hazard camera, captures the probe’s shadow against the surface, while a third offers a view of one of the wheels and rocks close by.
Deputy project scientist Katie Stack Morgan said the rover has already taken more images “than she can count” and more will be made public on Monday.
The area around the landing site has been named the Canyon de Chelly, after the Arizona national park, she added.
Describing the moment NASA first saw the images, she said: “The team went wild. We were in a dream-like state, we couldn’t believe what we were seeing.”
Her colleague, chief engineer Adam Steltzner, added: “It was stunning. The team was awestruck and there was a feeling of victory that we were able to capture these and share them with the world.”
Perseverance had been travelling through space for seven months before it entered the Martian atmosphere yesterday.
It then took just seven minutes to touch down, travelling at 12,100mph – or 16 times the speed of sound – towards the surface.
But ground controllers in Pasadena had another agonising 11 minutes to wait before they received confirmation of the safe landing, with radio signals travelling 33.9 million miles between Mars and Earth at the speed of light.
The rover slowed down as it plummeted closer and closer to the surface, releasing a 70ft parachute and a sky crane to lower itself the final 60ft.
NASA chose to land Perseverance near an ancient river delta and former lake known as the Jezero Crater.
Here it will drill deep down into the sediment of where the river once flowed, collecting material that may hold signs of life.
Although the work has only just begun, NASA managers breathed a sigh of relief yesterday that their $2.7bn (£1.9bn) mission didn’t end in a crash landing.
NASA’s Perseverance Rover successfully lands on Mars – TASS
NEW YORK, February 19. /TASS/. The US Perseverance Rover has successfully touched down on Mars and sent two pictures back to Earth almost immediately, NASA reported Thursday.
“Touchdown confirmed,” the broadcast commentator said. The space agency clarified that it had already received two images from the planet.
The landing took almost “seven minutes of terror” as NASA calls it in an automatic regime due to a delay in command transmission.
“I’m safe on Mars. Perseverance will get you anywhere,” the rover ‘tweeted’ after the touchdown.
The landing was planned to take place near the Jezero Crater. A full check of Perseverance’s systems and equipment is expected shortly after.
NASA specialists seek to use the rover to detect traces of life on Mars from long ago. Perseverance will also gather rock and ground samples in 40 special containers, while most of them will be collected by another rover in 2026. NASA expects that the samples will be eventually delivered to Earth in the 2030s.
'A small part, but it was an important part': Manitoba company helped ensure Perseverance Rover landed safely on Mars – CTV News Winnipeg
A Manitoba company helped ensure that a recent mission to Mars landed successfully.
Canadian Photonic Labs, based in Minnedosa, supplied their Mega Speed high-speed cameras to help NASA as it was preparing to launch and land the Perseverance Rover, which successfully touched down on the Red Planet last week.
The company, which launched in 1995, creates high-speed cameras that are used to capture clear images from objects travelling at high rates of speed.
“We played a small part, but it was an important part, because you have to get the data,” said Mark Wahoski, president and founder of Canadian Photonic Labs. “It’s happening so fast that the human eye can’t see it. So, you need to slow time down.”
More than 20 of the cameras are in use at SuperSonic Navel Ordinance Research Track in China Lake, California. The track, which includes a sled that can launch items at speeds past the sound barrier, is used to test advanced products from organizations such as NASA and Lockheed Martin.
(Image submitted by Mark Wahoski)
“When you’re testing these items that are so expensive, and are so complicated to do, people pay attention on what equipment is actually working,” Wahoski said.
Wahoski said the cameras were used to help NASA test its decelerator and parachute, which were used to land Perseverance safely on Mars, in the years prior to the launch.
(Image submitted by Mark Wahoski)
“When you’re going to Mars, there’s a lot of complex things that need to work out besides even just getting there,” he said, noting that approximately half of all missions to Mars fail because of an incorrect landing or missing the planet altogether.
Perseverance was launched on July 30, 2020, and safely landed on Mars on Feb. 18. According to NASA, the rover is the most sophisticated rover to land on Mars, and is looking for signs of ancient life on the planet.
Wahoski said seeing Perseverance landing successfully was incredible to watch, and he is proud of his staff and the NASA engineers.
“We tend to forget about it, but when you think back on it, it’s just super, super cool,” he said. “You get super stoked.
“Where it really hits you is (that) we’ve had a lot of friends comment on it. When they wish you well, that’s when your heart goes out.”
Canadian Photonic Labs already has a new mission with NASA lined up. Wahoski said the company is providing equipment for a project involving a large vacuum chamber.
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