A high-resolution camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter detected the Perseverance rover after landing on the Red Planet last month, showing the nuclear-powered robot sitting on the Martian surface with its supersonic parachute and other components of the landing system. scattered nearby.
The MRO High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, camera captured views of the Perseverance rover in Jezero crater in multiple passes over the landing site after the spacecraft arrived on the Red Planet on February 18. A HiRISE image taken on February 24 shows the rover and its surroundings in false color, with scars on the Martian surface carved by Perseverance’s retrorockets just before landing.
The HiRISE instrument is the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet. Developed at the University of Arizona, the camera has a telescope and is used to map the Martian surface, study the planet’s geology, and explore landing sites for future missions.
MRO captured the February 24 image of Perseverance from a distance of about 180 miles (290 kilometers) away, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The rover is approximately 10 feet by 9 feet (3 by 2.7 meters) in size.
The Mars orbiter also spotted the rover’s parachute a couple of miles northwest of Perseverance’s landing site. The parachute deployed after the rover entered the atmosphere and slowed the spacecraft to subsonic speed. This was followed by the launch of the spacecraft’s heat shield, which plummeted to the Martian surface. His remains were located east of the rover’s landing site.
About a minute before landing, the parachute and the top of the rover’s aeroshell, called the backshell, separated and a rocket-powered thruster guided Perseverance the rest of the way to the surface. Eight variable thrust rocket motors removed the remainder of the rover’s vertical speed and the robot lowered below the landing platform on three nylon zip ties.
Perseverance landed on its six wheels, and the descent stage severed its connection to the rover and it flew northwest in a detour maneuver to escape to a safe distance from the rover. The landing stage impact site is also visible in the MRO HiRISE images.
Perseverance is on a $ 2.7 billion mission to study whether the Jezero crater site, which once housed a lake of liquid water, was habitable for ancient Martian life forms. The rover landed near sediment deposited by a dry river that empties into Lake Jezero, and the scientists plan to take Perseverance to the delta reservoirs to collect rock samples and eventually return to Earth.
The one-ton Mars rover also carries instruments to track Martian weather, measure rock composition, and has the first microphone and zoom-capable camera to fly to the Red Planet.
Perseverance also has an instrument to demonstrate the production of oxygen from carbon dioxide in Mars’ atmosphere, a capability that could help future human space travelers.
Email the author.
Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ EstebanClark1.