It is easy to imagine the illusion that the team responsible for Mars Perseverance must be experiencing these days, after its successful landing on Mars last Thursday. A journey that began last July, and that had us on edge for months, and our pulse quickened during the last minutes before landing, a critical phase of the mission, and that NASA had already explained to us previously with a video that reproduced the phases of it.
Thanks to this video, along with the additional explanations of the last months and the direct narration of the US space agency, many we could imagine how these phases were developing, and it was a really exciting moment (yes, I am one of those who stood up and jumped when it was confirmed that the operation had been a success, and that from that moment the true mission of Mars Perseverance began, the that will allow us to know more about life on the red planet.
So now it’s time to get excited about the challenges of the Mars Perseverance and the Ingenuity helicopter, and even more so with the complete development of NASA’s plans, which contemplate that some of the samples taken by the rover make the reverse trip to that of the probe, and reach the earth so that scientists can analyze them. It will be the first time in human history that we are able to bring samples from another planet, thus demonstrating that the round trip is terribly complex, but feasible.
Now, although we have to think about the present and the future, a press conference held a few hours ago by NASA makes us look at the recent past, more specifically Thursday, and replace the images that we composed in our head with the real ones, since that as we already told you a few days ago, the agency has released a video with the last minutes of the Mars Perseverance flight. And the images are impressive.
In a summary of three minutes and 25 seconds, and with a visual browser at the bottom of the video which indicates the phases, we can see from the deployment of the parachute to the disconnection of the Mars Perseverance from the crane that was in charge of controlling the final phase of the descent, in this case with three cameras, the lower one of the crane showing the rover, A top of the rover showing the crane and a bottom of the rover showing Martian soil.
Keep in mind, of course, that as the crane and the probe approach the Martian surface, braking motors remove the regolith layer that covers the surface (imagine a helicopter landing on a beach) subtracting much of the visibility from all cameras. Still, it is worth seeing. It is the first time that we can see a video like this. Until now, we have had to settle for infographics that reproduce the process.
This video marks another milestone, one of the many that Mars Perseverance has signed up to and will be targeting in the future, and makes space exploration even more attractive to the general public, and closer to those who have long been years we looked at the sky and we were a little lost. And, as I said a few weeks ago, and thanks to missions such as Mars Perseverance, Tianwen-1 and Hope Mars, the red planet is closer than it has ever been, and the word “neighbor” begins to charge in this case the closeness that we normally understand to be implicit in the term.
Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech