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TECHNOLOGY – NASA publishes a panoramic photo of Mars taken by the rover Perseverance

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The rover Perseverance landed on Mars on February 22, 2021. A historic moment that went around the world. Since then, NASA has released the first sound from the planet Mars and captured by the aircraft. The latest publication dates from Wednesday and it is that of a panoramic photo of the red planet reconstructed from several photographs taken by the rover.

The rover Perseverance has been busy since landing on Mars on Monday. After a black and white photograph of the red planet, the video of the rover’s landing was revealed by NASA. The US Space Agency released a spectacular panoramic photo of Mars on Wednesday. It shows the crest of the Jezero crater which, according to scientists, contained a deep lake into which a river was flowing about 3.5 billion years ago. The vehicle took 142 360-degree shots with the high-definition cameras installed on its mast.

“We are set up on a very good site, where we can see very similar characteristics to those found by Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity (three other rovers that preceded Perseverance on the red planet) on their landing zone,” said Jim Bell, of the University of Arizona.

One shows the deployment of the supersonic parachute, another, located under the rover, the Martian ground approaching, and two views capture the rover gradually deposited on the ground, suspended by three cables from the descent stage. “This is the first time we have been able to capture an event like a landing on Mars,” said the director of the legendary Jet Propulsion Laboratory where rover Michael Watkins was built at a press conference. “ “This is really fantastic!” he exclaimed.

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The rover was protected by a thermal shield as it entered the atmosphere at a speed of 20,000 km/h, marking the beginning of the “seven minutes of terror” to the ground. On the video of the landing, we can see this shield dropped on the surface of Mars. Eight retrorockets then finished slowing down the vehicle, and Martian dust is propelled in large quantities under their effect. Once the rover is stationary, we can also see the descent stage perform a final thrust to crash 700 meters further. “These images and videos are what we’ve dreamed of for years,” said Allen Chen, who is in charge of the landing phase for NASA. 

NASA also wanted to capture the sound of the dizzying descent, but it didn’t work. However, an extraordinary audio, recorded once the rover landed on the surface of the red planet, was unveiled by NASA. In the extract, we can hear a strident sound produced by the rover, but also, clearly, the Martian wind. “We are hopeful that we can continue to use these microphones to capture sounds,” said Dave Gruel. “ However, their life expectancy is limited due to extreme temperatures on Mars.The expedition of the rover Perseverance on Mars aims explicitly to find traces of ancient life on the red planet, collecting for at least two years up to thirty rock samples. The vehicle’s cameras will help scientists determine the geological history and atmospheric conditions of the crater, and identify the rocks and sediments that will be collected before being transported to Earth on a future mission, scheduled for the 2030’s.

       

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