For the first time ever, actual video footage has been captured by a Mars rover during the process of landing – providing a unique and fascinating look at its harrowing descent onto the surface.
Viewable below, the video begins with a view of the spacecraft’s parachute deploying, before switching to a downwards facing camera which shows the heatshield being jettisoned and falling away.
The footage continues with a breathtaking vista of the Martian surface stretching for miles in all directions as the rover descends towards its destination.
Additional camera angles then capture the deployment of the skycrane mechanism, with the rover being lowered the last few meters down onto the surface.
The skycrane then flies away as NASA’s team can be heard erupting into applause at their success.
“We have taken everyone along with us on our journeys across the Solar System, through the rings of Saturn, looking back at the ‘Pale Blue Dot’ and incredible panoramas on the surface of Mars,” said Mike Watkins of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to actually capture an event like the landing of a spacecraft on Mars. We will learn something by looking at the performance of the vehicle in these videos.”
“But a lot of it is also to bring you along on our journey.”