Another robot buddy will be landing on Mars!
February 16, 2021 4:51 PM   Subscribe

A new "Seven Minutes Of Terror" video from NASA outlining Perserverence's complicated landing on the Red Planet on Feb 18. [3m43s] We did this once already with Opportunity, let's see if we can do it again for Perserverence!

Obligatory Nine Inch Nails / NASA mashup involving the landing of a different Mars rover which used an entirely different method to get the craft safely to the surface of our neighboring planet.
posted by hippybear (93 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sorry... we did this once before with Curiosity. Opportunity and Spirit were both landed with the balloon method shown in the Obligatory link.
posted by hippybear at 5:02 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Whoa, I had no idea it was happening so soon. We've got a choice of streams to watch.

Perseverance is also bringing a friend -- Ingenuity, a small helicopter that can fly for 90 seconds in the Martian atmosphere.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:09 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


Thanks, I needed this. After yet another ugly day of reading political news, pandemic news, sniping on MeFi, and everything else that's dispiriting these days, it's so inspiring to think about humanity once again landing a vehicle full of science gear on a faraway planet.
posted by PhineasGage at 5:14 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


As awesome as this is technically, I can't help reminiscing about the similar animation for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers that I had to spend hours downloading back in 2003. The animation has gotten a lot better since then, but I don't think the movie trailer music and constant jump-cuts in the newer video really add much. (At least they've dialed back the shaky-cam a bit, though.)

Fingers crossed for Thursday!
posted by teraflop at 5:16 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Fingers crossed, tentacles knotted.
posted by y2karl at 5:19 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


Worth noting that Perserverence will be collecting and storing core samples for later retrieval.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:20 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


The EDL Pre-landing Simulation is well worth your time, too.
posted by miguelcervantes at 5:37 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Their simulation looks nifty, but *I* want to land it! Has anyone recoded the beloved old Lunar Lander video game for Mars gravity and terrain?
posted by PhineasGage at 5:55 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Google search of "sky elevator mars lander video game" doesn't yield any results.

I suspect the 7 minute lag between your control messages and the unit receiving them would lead to disaster pretty quickly.
posted by hippybear at 5:59 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Have you heard of Kerbal Space Program?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:59 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]




I really hate phrases like 7 minutes of terror, no one is holding their breath except maybe when watching an animation. A lot of hoping it goes well I'm sure, and the folks most directly monitoring know exactly when it occurs and then need to wait a full 20 minutes to find out. Perhaps if they used the God Particle they could hear it's screams earlier, gerraghesfooblak (to coin a word for detest of wretched science analogies that utterly miss the point).
posted by sammyo at 6:19 PM on February 16


I just wanted to tell you good luck. We’re all counting on you
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:23 PM on February 16 [9 favorites]


Mars Rover Landing CRASH COURSE- 2 DAYS LEFT!

Mark Rober takes you on a tour of JPL to take a look at Perserverence and chats with a bunch of his ex co-workers. Worth a watch.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:10 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Me, I think that a bare assertion that "no one is holding their breath" during the descent phase needs a bit more justification than you can buy by just throwing around physics buzzwords. In other words: don't be condescending. Some of us will absolutely be holding our breaths.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:26 PM on February 16 [12 favorites]


Yeah, it's totally possible to both know something has "already occurred" and still react with feeling to the delayed information as it reaches you. I feel it whenever I look into the deepness of night sky.

The landing ellipse is less than 5 miles diameter, wow. It's got camera to film the landing from multiple angles.
posted by joeyh at 7:51 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


I remember sitting in public library in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on July 4th in 1997, 'watching' on a library computer as the Pathfinder successfully landed/bounced onto Mars. Text updates. I was riveted. I was freaking out, and nobody around me seemed to even have an inkling of how historic that moment, that day, was. And on July 4th. It has stayed with me ever since. The sheer audacity of it. The landing, the rover, the effing balloons. And then the pictures. I couldn't believe it worked on the first try. It still elevates my heartbeat today. And now ... a helicopter? I will never not be amazed at such things.
posted by buffalo at 8:08 PM on February 16 [12 favorites]


Just so you know, I named my new rescue dogs Spiri and Oppy instead of Curie and Percy specifically so I wouldn't jinx the landing.
posted by rouftop at 8:13 PM on February 16


Worth noting that Perserverence will be collecting and storing core samples for later retrieval.

And carrying a helicopter which, if successful, will mark the first powered flight on another planet. I wonder what the Wright brothers and Igor Sikorsky would think.
posted by bondcliff at 8:17 PM on February 16


no one is holding their breath

It's best to breathe normally, as blood pressure can drop dangerously low when certain things are clenched for long durations.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:26 PM on February 16


Back in the pre-pandemic beforetime, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry would host public screenings of Mars landings. No matter the hour, they inevitably were overflow auditorium crowds that required using the planetarium too. If you couldn’t be at JPL, the next best thing was being in a packed room of self-selected space nerds cheering and giving the EDL teams standing ovations. There’s no question that everyone in the room was holding their breath, every time. I guess this time it’ll just be me and my cats.
posted by bixfrankonis at 9:07 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


I wonder what the Wright brothers and Igor Sikorsky would think.

Sikorsky would want to take the controls. The Wright Brothers would be filing a lawsuit against NASA because they were notorious patent trolls.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:25 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


This is the perfect time to be deep into the game Per Aspera, check it out people! I am also wondering when Elon's colonists are scheduled to touch down?
posted by Meatbomb at 10:38 PM on February 16


True story: during the Curiosity landing, I was traveling and wasn’t sure about having reliable internet in the room where I was staying, so I set up the stream many hours in advance and let it run on my computer without actively watching it. As the time of the predicted landing approached, I switched to the tab where the stream was running and started to watch. I slowly realized that my computer’s stream had glitched while I wasn’t paying attention and was running substantially behind the live stream: my wristwatch and the forecast said that the “seven minutes of terror” should start at any moment, but the updates coming from my screen were way too calm for this. I took a deep breath and hit “refresh” on my livestream, and it switched from people calmly explaining what telemetry meant to dozens of engineers jumping up and down and cheering.

There was no way to go back. If I had left the setup alone, I would have believed that I had participated in real time, even though I was actually thirty or forty-five minutes behind the real-time participants. I missed my chance to participate in the Mars-landing mutual orgasm because I had just enough knowledge to try to fix problems.

I think about this experience far more than is probably appropriate, and I don’t intend to repeat this particular mistake during the landing on Friday Thursday.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 11:12 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


I really like this longer video, from which the animations in the original post were excerpted. (Including official NASA "whooshing sounds in space"!)
posted by Luddite at 1:51 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


I personally didn't think Curiosity was going to land safely. The skycrane-style landing system is super complex, with several active control systems that all have to be perfectly reliable and be completely synchronised to achieve a safe landing. We didn''t have civilian helicopters with multiple rotors for the longest time for this reason, the more active stuff that you need to have working together at once, the more likely it won't.

I was totally happy to be proven wrong though, and I will be holding my breath for seven minutes tomorrow. Figuratively.
posted by Eleven at 4:21 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Sometimes when I'm down, I rewatch the video of the JPL engineers and scientists who worked on Curiosity as they're tracking its landing. It's emotional stuff to see them on pins and needles as they're hearing each step of the process. There's cheers when things go as expected and then small groans when a few times when things don't.

The most memorable part, for me, is that staff clearly knows exactly when Curiosity safely touched down, they're probably looking at all the same data and THEY KNOW. There's a clear buzz of electricity at that point, but they don't cheer, they're professional, they want for confirmation from the leads and once that happens, then they explode in happiness and relief.

There's the full video, I've linked to about 8 minutes before touchdown.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:51 AM on February 17 [6 favorites]


I was definitely holding my breath as I watched the team for Curiosity stare at their monitors while they were waiting for some sign of a successful touchdown. I'm just a casual observer and the anxiety was high so I couldn't imagine how they felt. My internet was glitchy that day but when I saw a slightly-pixelated and slow-motion explosion of joy punctuated by hugs and high fives I shed a little tear. I also loved that, in the aftermath, people from that team became celebrities for a little while. Carl Sagan used to lament that the minds behind the successful fly-by of Uranus in 1986 weren't as celebrated as the feats from Kareem and Larry Byrd.
posted by drstrangelove at 4:54 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]


As awesome as this is technically, I can't help reminiscing about the similar animation for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers yt that I had to spend hours downloading back in 2003.

Crap, that was all the way back in 2003? Okay, now that does make me feel old. I watched those videos over and over again, sometimes piping them through the aalib filter in mplayer to watch them in glorious ascii-mation.

Also, I remember the web page for Mars Pathfinder which was, 1997?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:14 AM on February 17


Krispy Kreme will have a special Mars donut on February 18. It's free to anyone who sent their name on the rover, all you have to do is zhow your boarding pass.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:37 AM on February 17


Worth noting that Perserverence will be collecting and storing core samples for later retrieval.

It's going to poop them out in little sample tubes. Some future mission will try to run around and collect them and send them back to Earth.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:37 AM on February 17


It's wonderfully preposterous how rovers have landed on Mars: wrapped in beach balls and bouncing to a stop; or coming down on a parachute, but cutting it lose and finishing with a rocket motor.

I would love to have been a fly on the wall in the meetings when those ideas were first presented.
posted by monotreme at 9:19 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


The thing that kills me about the utterly batshit sky crane is that they’re one-upping themselves with this one by also landing in a more dangerous-to-land area and using some sort of new-fangled real-time terrain mapping system to find the actual good landing spot while on the way down.
posted by bixfrankonis at 9:25 AM on February 17


I will be holding my breath for seven minutes tomorrow. Figuratively.

Go for literally. A career as a pearl diver awaits!
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:52 AM on February 17


Given Gilbert V. Levin's I’m Convinced We Found Evidence of Life on Mars in the 1970s, I find the collection of samples for possible return to Earth a bit disquieting. Who needs an asteroid strike when we can have Blood Music meets the Andromeda Strain on steroids?
posted by y2karl at 7:13 PM on February 17


Is there where I go to complain about a very important zoom being rescheduled to during the landing.

Because Imma 'bout get all Karen-like up in here.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:33 AM on February 18


Brian McManus from Real Engineering has a technical video up: The Insane Engineering of the Perseverance Rover
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:05 AM on February 18




Atmospheric Entry at 20:48 UTC, 15:48 EST, 12:48 PST.

Safe Landing or New Martian Crater expected at: 20:55 UTC, 15:55 EST, 12:55 PST.

I'm giving even odds. Who's taking?
posted by Eleven at 12:02 PM on February 18


JPLraw feed https://youtu.be/kPrbJ63qUc4
posted by bleary at 12:05 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


The live simulation thing-y is pretty neat too!
posted by Poldo at 12:33 PM on February 18


Every time NASA does one of these missions, I'm just struck by the crazy audaciousness of the program. Like, the beach balls, and then the sky crane, those seemed like they were cribbing their ideas from old Warner Brother cartoons, right? And I'd just assimilated the fact that they're sending a four pound helicopter along with this one, just as a proof-of-concept, and that it has to operate autonomously because the light-speed lag between here and there is too great for us to control it by "joystick", which seems like enough craziness for a single mission, right?

But THEN I find out that they're having the rover take core samples, and store them for pickup "later" (?)(!!), by a craft that won't leave Earth for at least another five years (!), which will send out a smaller rover, to be designed by the EU, to pick the cores up, store them on a rocket that will then launch from the surface of goddamn Mars (!!!) up to an orbiter, which will then fire them back to Earth, at which point...?? How will we get them safely down? Nobody's sure, yet!! They're just "confident" (?!) they'll find a way.

I just don't have the vocabulary for how amazing and inspiring I find it. Even just to have the idea and make a run at it is impressive, let alone having a non-zero chance of pulling it off.
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:34 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


Also, I'm watching/listening to this via the NASA app on my phone, and just discovered that the default video feed is a 360 view of the mission control room, because the view swiveled when I picked the phone up.
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:40 PM on February 18


There was a missed opportunity for stress snack marketing: Seven Minutes of Terra™ Chips!
posted by fedward at 12:47 PM on February 18


God this is stressful
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:51 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


It's weird to think that what's happening has already happened 10 minutes ago.
posted by night_train at 12:56 PM on February 18


Touchdown. Yayyyy!
posted by Eleven at 12:56 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Rock stars, all of them.
posted by bixfrankonis at 12:56 PM on February 18


YES!
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:56 PM on February 18


I'M NOT CRYING YOU'RE CRYING!
posted by exlotuseater at 12:56 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


They seem to have done it!
posted by maxwelton at 12:56 PM on February 18


Done and down.

Such a vulgar display of power.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 12:56 PM on February 18


Yay!
posted by Eddie Mars at 12:58 PM on February 18


They have an image already!
posted by Eleven at 12:58 PM on February 18


Yay!
posted by Eddie Mars


... MarsaFilter?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:00 PM on February 18


Cheers to the JPL engineer who said, "I remember this spot, it looked good." And the one who chanted, "TRN! TRN!" (Terrain Relative Navigation.)
posted by bixfrankonis at 1:01 PM on February 18


What Eddie Mars said.
posted by y2karl at 1:01 PM on February 18


YES!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by Pendragon at 1:02 PM on February 18


Dare Mighty Things indeed.
posted by Eleven at 1:03 PM on February 18


WOOT!
posted by zengargoyle at 1:03 PM on February 18


What a fantastic future we live in! :D
posted by mazola at 1:03 PM on February 18


That one scientist's hair with the blue and the stars!!!!!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:03 PM on February 18


Hello, world (image of ground)
posted by bleary at 1:04 PM on February 18


This patch of Mars appears to look very much like all the other patches of Mars we've seen, so: good job! Right planet!
posted by phooky at 1:08 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Somebody check on that guy who sounded so breathless just before landing.
posted by NorthernLite at 1:08 PM on February 18


I ran the livestream back to screepcap the one scientist's awesome hair. Better than a mohawk, IMO :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:09 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


I have a lot of sympathy for that one operator who let out a sigh of relief on the live net once telemetry came in.
posted by Eleven at 1:11 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


I think this all points to "Mission status: sick!"
posted by maxwelton at 1:21 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


And to think that this was a project cobbled together from 90% spare parts for Curiousity. That's amazing in itself.
posted by y2karl at 1:27 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


WHOOT, finally out of my meeting and this is great to see!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:32 PM on February 18


That was amazing, I'm thrilled it went off so well. I can't wait to see what Ingenuity can do.
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 1:49 PM on February 18


Now the team working on surface operations for
@NASAPersevere
will be living on Mars Time. The vehicle operates during its local daytime, so the team needs to be awake during the Martian day. Mars days are about 40 minutes longer than Earth days, so it's a weird lifestyle!
https://twitter.com/AstroKatie/status/1362509663753953280
posted by bleary at 1:58 PM on February 18


I thought the daytime was for solar powered Martian rovers? Wouldn't an RTG rover be available for science 24.5/7 for the most part?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 3:12 PM on February 18


Perseverance doesn't rely on solar power like the Spirit and Opportunity rovers did, but it still needs daylight in order to see and navigate.

Also, the rover has a couple of big lithium-ion battery banks to complement its RTG. So it's not like the energy is being wasted during the night -- it can be stored in order to power the next day's activities.
posted by teraflop at 3:24 PM on February 18


I can’t even: they put commercial GoPro-style cameras on the descent vehicle. We’ll be getting our first-ever HD videos, with sound, of landing on another planet.
posted by bixfrankonis at 3:51 PM on February 18


What a treat. It was so much fun afterwards, to see all of the mission leaders and engineers and such being so giddy with joy. Such a pleasure to see people unabashedly happy.

Also, the technology is just cool.
posted by dancing_angel at 4:26 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


That delay, when the engineers have done their jobs, and then they have to just wait...

The best celebrations. I’m also not crying...
posted by Windopaene at 7:58 PM on February 18


That sigh of relief, some minutes after either the touch down or the first image, from one of the women; I felt that in my bones.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:26 PM on February 18


It's weird to think that what's happening has already happened 10 minutes ago.

Why The Speed Of Light* Can't Be Measured :P

also btw, for more on ingenuity: mars helicopter!
posted by kliuless at 9:54 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


National Geographic Channel as usual had a special aired on the night of the landing called Built for Mars. It’s worth checking out if only because I don’t recall previous such shows on NatGeo or PBS focusing so heavily on the people who actually, physically built the thing. (As seen in one shot: a banner reading, “You dare mighty things. We build them.”)
posted by bixfrankonis at 10:23 PM on February 18


Here is an interactive map showing where the rover is located. I'm not sure what "interactive" means, exactly...it doesn't seem to do much, but I assume it will be filled in with more features as exploration commences.
posted by Ipsifendus at 8:24 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Why The Speed Of Light* Can't Be Measured :P

If it was actually the case, multipath transmission and hence MIMO wouldn't work. But it does. So what now, theoretical physicists?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:33 AM on February 19


Why The Speed Of Light* Can't Be Measured :P

I'm struggling to understand this. Surely the problem can be overcome if the mars astronaut has a synchronised clock that he's brought from earth. He can now tell earth that he sent the message at 2pm their time. I know these guys are a lot smarter that me so obviously I'm missing something.
posted by night_train at 10:02 AM on February 19


Oh, gosh. (First photo from the EDL cameras.)
posted by bixfrankonis at 10:09 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


Three things I've seen today that just made me so happy.

Via Twitter, a long-time immigrant employee of JPL watches the landing, from his remote worksite. Favorite moment: "The kids are doing great!"

From YouTube: President Biden calls NASA with his congratulations.

And also from YouTube, "NASA Science Live: We Landed on Mars!", which is the most heartwarming thing I've seen in ten years.
posted by Ipsifendus at 4:08 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


night_train: as explained elsewhere in the video, moving a clock subjects it to time dilation, and destroys the synchronization. An extreme version is the "twin paradox."
It's weird to think that what's happening has already happened 10 minutes ago.
It's actually stranger than this: until the radio signal reaches you, the event where the spacecraft emitted the signal is not in your past. It's not in your future either. The technical name is "elsewhere"; we say that two events which can't be connected by any lightspeed-or-slower signal are "spacelike-separated." There are reference frames where any two spacelike-separated events are simultaneous, where one comes first, or where the other comes first. And you can switch which event comes first by walking fast enough in the appropriate direction. (Well, not walking.)
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 8:10 PM on February 20 [5 favorites]


FWIW, Monday's briefing promises "New Video and Images of the Red Planet" so there's a fair to middling chance the descent footage will drop. The official caption of that EDL POV photo confirms it was taken from video.
posted by bixfrankonis at 2:27 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]


The official caption of that EDL POV photo confirms it was taken from video.

You know, one of the most amazing things about this is that NASA has spent a decade setting up the not-exactly-the-Internet using the orbiters and their 3m antennas as -- not-uucp nodes picking up the files.

So the video took a while to be uploaded from the rover to whatever-orbiter-is-in-view, and from there to the DSN.

They've been building infrastructure.
posted by mikelieman at 3:29 PM on February 21 [3 favorites]


In a few minutes:
@NASA: Now that @NASAPersevere landed, we’ll release first-of-its-kind footage from the rover’s descent and landing after entering Mars’ atmosphere. Watch NASA TV Monday, Feb. 22, starting at 2pm ET to see Mars like never before: https://nasa.gov/live
posted by Pronoiac at 10:52 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, the video from the landing really is astonishingly great.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:16 AM on February 22


That was amazing.
posted by Poldo at 11:16 AM on February 22


AGAIN AGAIN!!!!

aka, when's the next rover going to land on Mars?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:04 PM on February 22


>>>New thread...
posted by PhineasGage at 12:10 PM on February 22


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