NASA just released the first-ever video of a spacecraft landing on Mars on Monday, and it was incredible — capturing Thursday's historic touchdown of the Perseverance rover on the Red Planet for all to watch.
The video will stream live on NASA's official YouTube channel at 2:00 PM EST (featured below) — with Perseverance set to begin its search for ancient life on Mars, gather samples, and enhance our grasp of the Red Planet to a scientific fidelity never achieved before.
NASA gives play-by-play of Perseverance's landing
There were no tangled lines when the parachute deployed — signifying a perfect deployment. The heat shield fell away with great symmetry. In the video, we can see the electronics and devices that measured the aerodynamics and heating of the shield during descent.
The "rocking" motion of the craft during its final descent was normal as the rover made its final touchdown. The downward-facing camera on the slow-descent rocket (sky crane) showed the wires holding the craft up. A golden "umbilical" cord was also in view — which transferred the video down to the rover.
The upward-looking video from the rover showed the descent-stage craft appear to lift away from Perseverance as the latter was lowered via wires (called bridles). Martian dust began to fill some of the screen as the rover neared touchdown. Once it does, the video shows the descent stage lift away "in a hurry," said a NASA official during the live stream.
NASA shared first-ever video of Perseverance's Mars touchdown
NASA broadcast the first-ever video of a landing on Mars on Monday, sending waves around the world as countless onlookers witnessed this historic visual first.
The first image from Mars in the 1970s had to be "hand-painted" to add color to the image. A NASA official shared some words about how robots on Mars can help us understand what it's like to land on the Red Planet — drawing an analogy to seeing a video of his daughter perform a backflip from her point-of-view.
Three cameras on top of the vehicle, on the back shell — capturing high-rate imagery. One of the cameras ceased functioning when the parachute deployed, but this was expected.
There was also one camera on the descent stage rocket, which served as a sky crane for the rover. Perseverance had two cameras attached — one on the top looking up at the descent-stage rocket, and another pointed down.
Sadly, no audio was collected during the descent to Mars' surface. But it was an incredible experience to watch.
NASA airing video of Perseverance's Mars landing
"Now that @NASAPersevere landed, we'll release first-of-its-kind footage from the rover's descent and landing after entering Mars' atmosphere," said NASA officials in a Saturday Twitter post.
The novel video clip will show the Perseverance rover touchdown at Jezero Crater on the Red Planet. We saw a sneak peek of the new clip on Friday — when NASA's Perseverance mission scientists unveiled a photo of the rover hanging above Mars from its rocket-propelled sky crane near the end of the craft's "seven minutes of terror," when mission control was out of contact with the rover.
Perseverance will eventually send 4K video to Earth
"The moment that my team dreamed of for years, now a reality," read the photo caption from NASA, which was followed by a second tweet that said: "This shot from a camera on my 'jetpack' captures me in midair, just before my wheels touched down."
As of writing, Perseverance is uploading data to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which will then relay the data to NASA's Deep Space Network of antennas that monitor missions throughout the solar system and beyond.
From its Jezero Crater landing site, the Perseverance rover can transmit up to 2 megabits of data per second to the European Space Agency's MRO. Three other spacecraft also watched the rover land on Thursday, and soon we'll have videos of unprecedented quality — shot in 4K video and returned to Earth in an interplanetary first.
This is a developing news story about the forthcoming video of the Perseverance rover's landing on Mars, so be sure to return here for more updates.