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NASA releases photo of Perseverance probe descent on Mars

CAPE CAÑAVERAL, Florida, USA (AP) – The world got a close look at the descent of a spacecraft on Mars for the first time after NASA released a surprising photograph of the moment the Perseverance probe descended towards the surface of the red planet on Friday.

The image was released less than 24 hours after Perseverance successfully landed on the spot near what would have been a river delta billions of years ago, on a mission to search for signs of ancient life and choose the most promising rock samples to send to Earth within a decade.

NASA equipped the spacecraft with a record number of 25 cameras and two microphones, most of which were turned on during Thursday’s descent.

The rolling probe is seen in impressive detail when it was 2 meters (6.5 feet) from the surface, as it was lowered, attached by cables to the flying crane system, whose thrusters kicked up Martian dust. NASA has promised to release more photos in the coming days and perhaps even an audio recording of the descent.

“We’ve never seen this before,” flight systems engineer Aaron Stehura told a news conference. “It was impressive, and the team was stunned. There is a sense of triumph because we were able to capture this image and share it with the world ”.

Chief Engineer Adam Steltzner called the image “iconic,” on a par with Buzz Aldrin’s photograph of Apollo 11 on the Moon, that of Saturn taken by Voyager 1, and that of the “Pillars of Creation ”captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The rolling probe is perfectly fine, officials said, after landing on a flat, safe surface in Jezero crater with just one degree of incline and relatively small stones around it. Systems verification continues for the time being. It will take at least a week for the rolling tube to start moving.