NASA/JPL drop first-ever video of landing on Mars
February 22, 2021 11:28 AM   Subscribe

On-board cameras catch Perseverance during entry, descent, and landing. Matt Wallace, Perseverance deputy project manager, credited having watched his daughter's GoPro-style footage of doing a backflip for the plan to put ruggedized commercial sports-POV cameras on the Perserverance rover for EDL.

Dave Gruel, EDL camera suite lead, explained that they had two dictates: the cameras could not interfere in any way with performance of EDL; and "we get what we get"—they had to be satisfied even if they only got a single frame of footage. (In the end, they got something over 25k images and 30GB of data.)
posted by bixfrankonis (91 comments total) 87 users marked this as a favorite
 
At time of posting, the press conference is still on. Full disclosure: I legit cried.
posted by bixfrankonis at 11:29 AM on February 22 [14 favorites]


The footage of the landing is really incredibly great. Definitely worthy of a new post. Wow.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:40 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]


The video is stunning, and the first audio captured from the surface (unfortunately the microphone didn't function during descent/landing) is is just the very beginning.

We'll be able to hear the drill, hear the rover move, and much more.
posted by tclark at 11:52 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


The press briefing also has some new high resolution imagery
posted by piyushnz at 11:54 AM on February 22


The sensational result of extraordinary engineering. I've been following the US space program since Apollo days, and I'm still thrilled by every new achievement.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:58 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


It's crazy to see for oneself how fast the Mars surface was coming up to the lander, and then all of a sudden it slows down to a controlled and survivable speed. What a tribute to the engineering and operations crews. Well-deserved applause at the end.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:58 AM on February 22 [6 favorites]


No YOU have Mars dust in your eyes...
posted by PhineasGage at 12:02 PM on February 22 [19 favorites]


YouTube version of the video; the individual videos are on JPL's channel.
posted by bixfrankonis at 12:05 PM on February 22 [8 favorites]


Whoa the sky-crane part was awesome!! Where did the main lander go??
posted by stinkfoot at 12:10 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


stinkfoot, here's a map.
posted by bixfrankonis at 12:12 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]


It's just so goddamned cool. Just so, so cool. Incredible achievement.
posted by saladin at 12:14 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


I went home over my lunch break to watch the press conference, and was sort of half expecting to be underwhelmed, but that footage is amazing. Watching the details of the landscape come into focus during the descent is awe-inspiring.
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:16 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Martian wind!
posted by jquinby at 12:21 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I feel like the somewhat-buried-lede here is that they fetched 30 GB of data from Mars over the weekend! But yes, that was entirely amazing, and NASA is doing its place in my heart to restore my faith in humanity!
posted by scolbath at 12:24 PM on February 22 [16 favorites]


In a crouton-petting moment, I caught myself waving goodbye to the heat shield as it fell away.

Godspeed, little shield. You done good.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:31 PM on February 22 [28 favorites]


30 GB of data from Mars over the weekend

Upper bandwidth from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is 2Mb per second, which doesn't seem high but is equivalent to 21.6GB per day!
posted by piyushnz at 12:34 PM on February 22 [12 favorites]


is equivalent to 21.6GB per day!

Only if Mom doesn't pick up the extension in the kitchen and knock you offline.
posted by hippybear at 12:36 PM on February 22 [42 favorites]


Only if Mom doesn't pick up the extension in the kitchen and knock you offline.

I got that reference!

Seriously: tears in my eyes here.
posted by Silvery Fish at 12:38 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I had just learned earlier this morning elsewhere that the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been kept on long after its mission ended in order to provide a high speed data connection to Mars and any robots. We've got infrastructure around Mars! How cool is that?
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 12:38 PM on February 22 [27 favorites]


That is incredible. I am on many zoom calls every day with much lower resolution than Perseverance is beaming back from 200 million kilometers away (and infinitely more boring content!)

Go Mars!
posted by chavenet at 12:47 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


That footage is amazing.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:48 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I like how the article announcing the first audio from Mars does not, in fact, contain any way to hear the first audio from Mars.
posted by Sand at 12:48 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


I'm running the video through Topaz Video Enhance AI (like Gigapixel AI but for videos) and it looks cool; now we just need this guy to provide some fake sound effects.
posted by floam at 12:49 PM on February 22


Thanks for this. I was really looking forward to the heat shield ejection. As cool as I thought it would be.

This whole mission has been incredible already. So many things tried for the first time. Skycrane, heat shield ejection, realtime guidance for landing, the small helicopter thingy ... I mean this is just wonderful.
posted by indianbadger1 at 12:50 PM on February 22


So many things tried for the first time. Skycrane, heat shield ejection, realtime guidance for landing

The sky crane was first used with the Curiosity rover in 2012 as part of the Mars Science Laboratory mission.

It's still incredible how well such a complex piece of autonomous machinery works on another planet, though.
posted by jedicus at 12:56 PM on February 22 [8 favorites]


> So many things tried for the first time. Skycrane...

They did the skycrane thing back in 2011 with Curiosity.
posted by genpfault at 12:58 PM on February 22


This is so damn awesome. As much as we're enjoying this, imagine how much everyone who has been involved with this and previous Mars missions is getting to enjoy seeing the actual footage of their work instead of just getting message updates of speed and events along the way in EDL.
posted by azpenguin at 12:58 PM on February 22


Thanks @jedicus and @genpfault for correcting me.

I conflated the fact that it was used for such a large vehicle (1 ton compared to 350 lb for curiosity) with it being the first time.
posted by indianbadger1 at 1:26 PM on February 22


imagine how much everyone who has been involved with this

When I was watching the lead-up to the landing on Monday, the mentioned that the landing for this rover was helped by a new piece of software that would analyze scans of the ground to help in finding an idea place to land. And then they briefly spoke to one of the software developers who'd worked on that specific thing. And she'd been working on it for eight years.

I'm a programmer. I can't imagine what the experience must be like, to work on code that will only be executed in its intended environment only once, during an interval that lasts less than 10 minutes. But with years of scientific research potential riding on the result. But I have no difficulty understanding why there's so much jumping up and down and high-fiving and crying once the touchdown was confirmed.
posted by Ipsifendus at 1:32 PM on February 22 [40 favorites]


It's crazy to see for oneself how fast the Mars surface was coming up to the lander, and then all of a sudden it slows down to a controlled and survivable speed

This is called a "suicide burn" (at least amongst Kerbals) and is supposed to be the most efficient way. I can kind of understand why; if you cancel out your speed high up, you only end up picking up a bunch more speed which then has to be cancelled again. So instead, you burn at the last minute depending on your thrust and save fuel.

Or if you are bad at Kerbal, you hit the Mun at high speed and press quick load.
posted by Acey at 1:38 PM on February 22 [19 favorites]


oh god, Ipsifendus. i'm almost done reskilling into programming (graduating end of this semester) and considering the idea of working on a program that has CRASHING A ROVER ON MARS as a potential failure mode made my palms start to sweat immediately. no thank you. massive kudos to anyone that courageous.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:40 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


I have been sharing this everywhere, and narrating it:

The action starts around :13, when the probe's parachute snaps right up into the Martian sky....

Then at :31 the heat shield pops off and faaaaaaaaaaallllllllsssssssssss down to the surface of Mars.
But wait! It gets better yet!

Follow from 1:00 to 2:40 as Perseverance plummets down, the Martian surface gently getting closer, then coming up faster, faster, too fast - aaaaaa -

Then at 2:44 NASA goes Abel Gance (Napoleon, 1927) on us and we see three (3) different camera views! Sky crane looking down, rover looking up at the former drops the latter straight down. *And at the same time* we see from the rover's underbelly, looking down at rocket-sprayed uprushing Martian soil.

At 3:08 we look up at the sky crane blasting away into the Martian sky -

Then back to Earth, with JPL staff gloriously and righteously losing their minds.
posted by doctornemo at 1:43 PM on February 22 [7 favorites]


I’m glad I’m not the only one tearing up a bit, this is amazing.
posted by lepus at 1:52 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Skycrane is so badass.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:53 PM on February 22


Recorded on the lander with a Linux computer and ffmpeg. I'm scrolling through the credits and sending "congrats on your mars landing" messages to friends from the free software community.
posted by joeyh at 1:56 PM on February 22 [24 favorites]


Yeah, I was remarking to a friend how it's been probably years since I last cried. Then this month I've cried numerous times; after getting my parents vaccinated, our hospital's babies getting more parent visitors after covid restrictions are relaxed and the weather clearing up, and this video have all made me tear up.
posted by midmarch snowman at 2:05 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine was involved in the math "so that it doesn't explode when it lands." Good to know that worked!
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:08 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]


I conflated the fact that it was used for such a large vehicle (1 ton compared to 350 lb for curiosity) with it being the first time.

Man I hate being that guy but Curiosity weighed 899 kg, compared to Perseverance's 1,025kg. More, but in the same ballpark.

I think you're thinking of the earlier rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which weighed 180kg and used airbags to cushion their landings.
posted by jedicus at 2:17 PM on February 22 [5 favorites]


They can never spend too much money on this stuff, as far as I'm concerned.

Especially since if not on this, that money would be going to another corner of the military-industrial complex, and not on schools or health or anything.
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:20 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


One of the things I really like about all of NASA's robotic exploration missions is that in the absence of astronauts there's no human figurehead or cheesy narrative for reporting to latch onto, and the nature of the endeavour as an immense collaboration between thousands of people is much more apparent.
posted by Luddite at 2:21 PM on February 22 [34 favorites]


> Or if you are bad at Kerbal, you hit the Mun at high speed

"Lithobraking"
posted by genpfault at 2:22 PM on February 22 [19 favorites]


One thing that had not occurred to me until today’s briefing mentioned it: Adam Steltzner and the folks who came up with skycrane had never seen it in operation before today, because you can’t truly test it properly outside Martian gravity, atmospheric density/pressure and whatnot. A decade after it was first used, only this weekend did they get to see it in action.
posted by bixfrankonis at 2:24 PM on February 22 [7 favorites]


That was great! I was kind of hoping to be able to follow the heat shield down until it impacted the surface in a cloud of dust, Wile E. Coyote style, but realize the craft was too high up for that.
posted by TedW at 2:35 PM on February 22 [5 favorites]


Whoa the sky-crane part was awesome!! Where did the main lander go??

Just to be clear: Perseverance (the rover) is the main lander. As I understand it, the "skycrane" platform that lowered it to the surface while hovering overhead has no science instruments on it. Once it lowered the rover, its mission was done, and it flew off to ditch somewhere nearby.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 2:42 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]


O brave new world!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:56 PM on February 22


JPL: As soon as the rover senses that its wheels have touched the ground, it quickly cuts the cables connecting it to the descent stage. This frees the descent stage to fly off to make its own uncontrolled landing on the surface, a safe distance away from Perseverance.

Here's the set of images they have of where everything ended up:

Perseverance and Mars 2020 Spacecraft Components on the Surface

Close-Up of Perseverance Descent Stage on the Martian Surface

Close-Up of Perseverance Heat Shield on the Martian Surface

Close-Up of Perseverance Parachute on the Martian Surface
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:07 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


At first I was like, "that's littering!" but then I realized it's all good raw material for Matt Damon.
posted by MrVisible at 3:12 PM on February 22 [17 favorites]


Anybody know the significance of the red and white pattern on the parachute?
posted by The Half Language Plant at 3:30 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]




Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) has a very good writeup of the landing.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:39 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Something I didn’t gather from my reading is whether the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is essential for relaying data back to Earth, or whether it’s just a convenient expediter. Since it’s mission has been extended, I worry about its reliability, but NASA has shown extraordinary ingenuity in mission extension so maybe my worries are unfounded.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:56 PM on February 22


The MRO is not essential, there are 5 orbiters in the mars relay network. The rover can also communicate directly with earth at low bandwidth, and there's also an ESA orbiter that could relay.

The parachute markings are hinted at being a coded message..
posted by joeyh at 4:05 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Here's a page from NASA that gives a bit more detail about the different ways Perseverance can communicate with Earth, either directly or via relays.
posted by teraflop at 4:09 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Just to be clear: Perseverance (the rover) is the main lander. As I understand it, the "skycrane" platform that lowered it to the surface while hovering overhead has no science instruments on it. Once it lowered the rover, its mission was done, and it flew off to ditch somewhere nearby.

Initially read this as "flew off into a ditch somewhere" and lol'd
posted by stinkfoot at 4:23 PM on February 22 [5 favorites]


I had to rewind the first 5 seconds of this video two times to make sure I heard the announcer correctly, and yes I did, they f'in called this the "Straighten Up and Fly Right maneuver". I love NASA.
posted by jeremias at 4:33 PM on February 22 [6 favorites]


The Half Language Plant: I won’t do it justice but they discussed the chute patterns in today’s briefing. Roughly speaking the patterns allow them to get a sense of some aspects of chute performance, especially if, like this mission, you’ve got at least two cameras getting views of it.
posted by bixfrankonis at 4:38 PM on February 22


The parachute markings are hinted at being a coded message.

Per a reddit thread, in addition to helping to making it possible to track the orientation of the parachute, the colored panels are morse code for "dare mighty things to win glorious triumphs." Can't confirm, but the JPL motto is Dare Mighty Things, which comes from a Theodore Roosevelt quote: "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."
posted by bassomatic at 4:49 PM on February 22 [17 favorites]


I was kind of hoping to be able to follow the heat shield down until it impacted the surface in a cloud of dust, Wile E. Coyote style

Curiosity had a downward camera that took still images 5 times a second when it landed. A few days ago, Scott Manley did a video where he goes over the Curiosity footage (Curiosity stuff begins at 1:40). I thought it was interesting to compare the two landings, but I bring it up because Curiosity did capture the heat shield smacking into the surface like Wile E Coyote.
posted by surlyben at 4:49 PM on February 22 [5 favorites]


Skycrane is so badass.

Superhero landing!
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 4:52 PM on February 22


So cool. So very, very cool. I am humbled and honored to witness the successful execution of an event that required what must have been millions of hours of engineering. Go NASA!

(also: "lithobraking" LOL)
posted by coppertop at 5:14 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Upper bandwidth from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is 2Mb per second

They have a better uplink than my ISP sells me. Bet their ping sucks though.
posted by Nelson at 5:45 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Bet their ping sucks though.

Imagine playing Doom with a 22 minute ping. Sometimes longer depending on where Earth and mars is in there relative orbits.

Also there's some amazing subtweets in the main thread where some dumbass says something dumb and proceeds to get their ass handed to them for days.
posted by loquacious at 5:50 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Initially read this as "flew off into a ditch somewhere" and lol'd

Canal! On Mars we call them canals! ;)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:59 PM on February 22 [15 favorites]


The Curiosity team cut a fascinating 7 Minutes of Terror video back when they were going to do this for the first time. (Previously)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:27 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


Now the most important part of the mission begins, finding my TV remote.
posted by adept256 at 7:59 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


It's wonderful to cry at this. All I can think now is about the mystery of what is behind the tears :)
posted by goalyeehah at 8:29 PM on February 22


I doubt your remote’s on Mars. Have you checked Uranus?
posted by sjswitzer at 8:34 PM on February 22 [5 favorites]


Canal! On Mars we call them canals! ;)

Certainly classier than "space ditch."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:37 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


In 1957, it was hard enough just to get a rocket to leave Earth.

Link

What made this Mars landing possible? The rover's name tells it all. (4 syllables is kind of appropriate for it!)

Very emotional moment. So many capabilities and discoveries from 150 years of painstaking science were integrated into this landing.

(Mars. The lower you get, the flatter it looks! ;->)
posted by Twang at 9:08 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Adam Steltzner, the Chief Engineer of the project, reveals the secret of the parachute here.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 9:20 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]


Alex Mather reads his essay that named Perseverance, from Mar 2020.
posted by hippybear at 9:29 PM on February 22


In a crouton-petting moment, I caught myself waving goodbye to the heat shield as it fell away.

I had the transient thought: "Gee, I hope that doesn't hit anybody."
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:48 PM on February 22 [7 favorites]


I like this "morning after the party" image showing where all the bits and pieces ended up after Perseverance touched down
posted by rongorongo at 12:40 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


The parachute markings are hinted at being a coded message.
Here is an explanation of the *Dare mighty things" code as de cyphered by French IT Student Abela Paf - and his dad. We get Roosevelt's quote and the target co-ordinates of the landing.
posted by rongorongo at 12:55 AM on February 23 [5 favorites]


That’s JPL’s coordinates, not Jezero Crater.
posted by zamboni at 6:14 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]


Watching this wonderful video, in which the lander visually picks out its landing site in real time (and note the applause when the craft achieves radar lock with the ground, which means the likelihood of a safe landing just went way up!), fills me with awe and wonder. I have little doubt that we'll be using this process to stage habitation modules within precise distances of each other for a future human crewed expedition.

It also gives me renewed appreciation for the fact that we landed craft on the Moon and elsewhere when the process was mostly "aim it at the planet and hope it doesn't land too hard." (And even then, they're aiming at where the planet will be in the future!) The fact that both Viking landers succeeded in their mission with 1970s technology is a tribute to the geniuses at NASA and, as noted above, the perseverance of the dream of flight.
posted by Gelatin at 6:35 AM on February 23


I watched this yesterday with jaw on the floor. Truly spectacular.
posted by knapah at 8:02 AM on February 23


My good friend from high school informed us on our chatgroup that her niece, Swati Mohan ; was lead engineer for guidance, navigation and controls operations.

It was her voice announcing the safe touchdown. This is her explanation for her team's part of the mission;

"During the cruise phase heading toward Mars, our job is to figure out how we are oriented, make sure the spacecraft is pointed correctly in space (solar arrays to sun, antenna to Earth), and maneuver the spacecraft to get it where we want to go," Mohan explained in a NASA Q&A. "During entry, descent, and landing on Mars, GN&C determines the position of the spacecraft and commands the maneuvers to help it land safely."

That was extra-cool for us. :)
posted by indianbadger1 at 8:04 AM on February 23 [12 favorites]


It also gives me renewed appreciation for the fact that we landed craft on the Moon and elsewhere when the process was mostly "aim it at the planet and hope it doesn't land too hard."

Not to nitpick, but more nerdy "oh this is a cool piece of info", I believe the Apollo 12 mission in 1969 developed techniques for landing at a specific point. The mission was targeted for landing near an earlier unmanned probe, so they could verify that could it. If you listen to the Apollo 12 descent audio, you can hear the Commander, Peter Conrads, exclaim in surprise they were on target.

The Apollo lunar landings were automated except for the last few minutes. This allowed Apollo 11 to avoid a boulder field, but it also emphasized that there wasn't precise control over landing locations. Hell, Mission Control wasn't quite sure where they were at first, heh. Hence a targeted landing was a major goal of Apollo 12.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:12 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


(the collective) We sent a rocket carrying a dune buggy and a helicopter to a planet 137 million miles from Earth, told it to find a smooth spot in a specific crater, execute a complex series of tactics (involving parachutes, ablative disks, winching systems) then land safely. And, by the way, send back some HD movies. It was flawless.

Of all the things (the collective) we do that are not rocket science, this wasn't one of them.
posted by mule98J at 8:52 AM on February 23 [6 favorites]


Here's a NYT article about the Apollo 12 landing issues. The final moments of touchdown were originally under semi-manual pilot control (P66) but dust made it difficult to see the surface and made instruments flaky, so a change was made to allow the pilot to return to full automatic control (P65) if needed, purely to ensure there are no horizontal components upon landing. The Attitude Hold switch has been flipped by this point, so the thing isn't going to try to land anywhere but downward.

Despite a dirt-simple quadratic formula, the Apollo LM guidance is pretty good at getting the spacecraft within range of a target. But at 500 feet, it's all about landing safely wherever the pilot wants to go.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:38 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]


That's why some of us played Lunar Lander for hundreds and hundreds of hours, just waiting to get the call from NASA.
posted by PhineasGage at 10:44 AM on February 23 [8 favorites]


Mission to Mars was the first attraction I ever rode at Walt Disney World when I was a kid.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:17 AM on February 23


That landing video is something else. Space and time are so daunting. When the orbits of the planets were written, was there small print about SkyCranes? It's hard to imagine that on the infinite ruler of spacetime you can leave a mark, but there it is.
posted by dmh at 4:54 PM on February 23


Evolution of Mars landing videos, as well as rendering technology and expectations: posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:01 PM on February 23 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: small print about SkyCranes
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:41 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


Evolution of Mars landing videos, as well as rendering technology and expectations:
The original footage from the JPL control - after the landing but as they waiting for the first pictures - is worth a watch for the cigars, pipes and shirts. From the link about, I also like the guy who has the job of tracking the spacecraft's descent by plotting it on a graph of heigh (in feet) over time. If you are somebody who recalls waiting for an image to download from a web-page at 1990s speeds - this puts the wait into proportion.
posted by rongorongo at 4:49 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


The original footage from the JPL control

How does that guy on the left have a map of Westeros on his back in 1976? (Were upside-down Ireland shirts all the rage for the bicentennial?)
posted by The Tensor at 1:31 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Aww geez. From the Perseverance Twitter account (also has the image):

A moment of respect for the descent stage. Within two minutes of safely delivering me to the surface of Mars, I caught the smoke plume on one of my Hazcams from its intentional surface impact — an act that protected me and the scientific integrity of my landing site.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:18 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]


...NYT article about the Apollo 12 landing issues.

Let us also remember that part of Apollo 12’s lunar mission was to visit the Surveyor 3 spacecraft (which soft-landed on the Moon April 20, 1967). Hopefully we’ll see human beings standing on Mars next to Perseverance in the not-too-distant future.
posted by cenoxo at 3:58 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]


The capitalist pigs who want to escape to Mars must be loving all of the public money being pumped into this due diligence.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:09 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


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