Want to do something that you’ve never, ever done before? Watch this video of NASA’s Perseverance rover landing on the surface of Mars. Because, as weird as it seems, almost nobody (before this week) has directly watched a spacecraft land on another planet before.
And, if you’re any kind of space nerd, the video is exhilarating. Perhaps it’s the cheers from NASA’s control room every time something goes right with the Perseverance landing (which they didn’t have much control over) but mostly we reckon it’s just seeing this gigantic object complete its months-long journey from Earth to the surface of another planet prompting all the excitement.
Perseverance pays off
It’s definitely worth watching NASA’s video — seeing the parachute deploy, the heat shield separate on time and fall to the Martian surface, watching as the descending craft first locks onto its landing zone and then gently deposits its cargo on the ground… it’s pure science magic. But you don’t have to believe us.
Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, said “This video of Perseverance’s descent is the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit. It should become mandatory viewing for young women and men who not only want to explore other worlds and build the spacecraft that will take them there, but also want to be part of the diverse teams achieving all the audacious goals in our future.”
For a much more detailed rundown than the video provides of the technology that placed the rover on the ground, from landing velocities to the composition of the parachute used to slow the whole rig down, check out NASA’s post on the subject. While you’re there, listen to some actual audio taken from the Martian surface.