Perseverance has officially landed! The rover (and the Jet Propulsion Lab team) survived the seven terrifying minutes of entry, descent, and landing (EDL) to land at Jezero crater. If you missed it, you can watch the recording on NASA’s youtube channel. The Planetary Society also hosted a virtual landing party, if you’re interested in some other perspectives. Very quickly after landing, some pretty amazing first images of Mars were shared back with Earth. Let the exploring begin!
The first images
The first images of Mars that were shared were taken by the rover’s Hazard Avoidance Cameras, which are actually intended to be used for driving. They were low resolution, black and white thumbnails, but they’re pretty amazing photos all the same. There’s a dust cover on the lens, which gives the image a bit of a fish eye look to the image.
We didn’t get to see this during the actual landing, but a video was captured during the descent stage. Below is a still image from the video, showing Perseverance as it was about to touch down.
The following image is the first high resolution, colour image sent back by Perseverance (from the same Hazard Avoidance Cameras). I have to admit, despite looking pretty bleak up there, it’s amazing to see these images in such detail and colour. It also feels much more real to me.
As a side note, in the Twitterverse @redditSpacePorn cleverly combined the first photos from each lander that has successfully taken a photo of Mars.
Following Perseverance’s next steps
The hardest part is over, and Perseverance is now safely on Mars, so up next is the actual work. Over the next few months, Perseverance will be hanging out running some checks and allowing the Ingenuity helicopter to have a go at becoming the first powered flight on Mars (check out this cool 3D model of Ingenuity). Ingenuity has 30 days to test out its flying capabilities, which is more challenging than it may sound. The thin atmosphere on Mars means flying is a completely different ballgame. I’m looking forward to learning about that and sharing more in an upcoming blog post.
After the Ingenuity experiment is complete, Perseverance will begin the science part of its mission: exploring Jezero crater for signs of ancient life. NASA have released an interactive map for us to follow as Perseverance begins its 15 mile, multi-year journey around the crater.
Did you watch the landing? We’d love to hear what you think about these first images from the Mars 2020 mission, and what you’re looking forward to in the coming months or years! Find us @RovingCosmos on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Reddit or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.