Just four Martian days after landing on the Red Planet, NASA’s Perseverance rover has sent its first video of its new home: a 1-minute arabesque of color and motion captured by four onboard cameras, as the rover the size of a car hangs up. From his rocket-powered descent vehicle, a red and white parachute snaps into place, and the pitted surface of Mars slowly comes into view, dark canyons giving way to ripples of dust that look like giant rust-colored dunes (see video , on).
But perhaps even more exciting, an unexpected gift came along with the video and the thousands of new images that were downloaded over the weekend: the first sound recording taken from the surface of Mars. The recording, captured 1 day after landing with an onboard microphone, features the roar of the rover, followed by a gust of Martian wind gently drumming against the microphone. Hearing that sound was “overwhelming,” said Dave Gruel, chief engineer of the mission’s entry, descent and landing cameras, at a NASA event that announced the new video and images. “We are just beginning to do amazing things on the surface of Mars.”
That sentiment lasted all weekend as the images and video rolled in, said Michael Watkins, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). “These are really amazing videos. We all watched them binge over the weekend, if you can call a 1 minute binge video. But we saw it many, many times, and it’s just fantastic. “
The videos and images also suggest that the mission is going according to plan – so far only a few pieces appear to be missing or out of place (an antenna cover, the parachute cover, and a whimsical spring), and all the instruments. they work as expected, says Jessica Samuels, surface mission manager at JPL. Next, after the loading of new software is complete, the science team plans to do an in-depth examination of the rover’s instruments, deploy its robotic arm, and take Perseverance for its first test drive on the Red Planet.
The only sad note, Gruel says, was that the rover’s microphones malfunctioned during entry, meaning the mission has no sound to accompany its new video. But the mic was back online, and he said his team overcame the initial mishap with a favorite mantra: “We get what we get and we don’t get angry.”