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NASA releases first audio from Mars, video of landing
This NASA photo released on February 19, 2021, shows an image from NASA’s Perseverance rover of the surface of Mars and one of the rover's wheels after landing on February 18, 2021. NASA said February 18, 2021 that the Perseverance had touched down on Mars after successfully overcoming a risky landing phase known as the "seven minutes of terror." "Touchdown confirmed," said operations lead Swati Mohan. The autonomously-guided procedure was completed more than 11 minutes earlier, which is how long it takes for radio signals to return to Earth.
AFP/NASA/JPL-CALTECH, Handout

NASA releases first audio from Mars, video of landing

Chris Lefkow, Lucie Aubourg (Agence France-Presse) - February 23, 2021 - 7:19am

WASHINGTON, United States — The US space agency NASA on Monday released the first audio from Mars, a faint crackling recording of a gust of wind captured by the Perseverance rover.

NASA also released the first video of last week's landing of the rover, which is on a mission to search for signs of past life on the Red Planet.

A microphone did not work during the rover's descent to the surface, but it was able to capture audio once it landed on Mars.

NASA engineers played a 60-second recording.

"What you hear there 10 seconds in is an actual wind gust on the surface of Mars picked up by the microphone and sent back to us here on Earth," said Dave Gruel, lead engineer for the camera and microphone system on Perseverance.

The high-definition video clip, lasting three minutes and 25 seconds, shows the deployment of a red-and-white parachute with a 70.5-foot-wide (21.5-meter-wide) canopy.

It shows the heat shield dropping away after protecting Perseverance during its entry into the Martian atmosphere and the rover's touchdown in a cloud of dust in the Jezero Crater just north of the Red Planet's equator.

"This is the first time we've ever been able to capture an event like the landing on Mars," said Michael Watkins, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managing the mission.

"These are really amazing videos," Watkins said. "We binge-watched them all weekend."

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science, said the video of Perseverance's descent is "the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit."

'Perseverance is healthy'

Jessica Samuels, Perseverance's surface mission manager, said the rover was operating as expected so far and engineers were conducting an intensive check of its systems and instruments.

"I am happy to report that Perseverance is healthy and is continuing with activities as we have been planning them," Samuels said.

She said the team was preparing for a flight by the rover's small helicopter drone dubbed Ingenuity.

"The team is still evaluating," she said. "We have not locked in a site yet."

Ingenuity will attempt the first powered flight on another planet and will have to achieve lift in an atmosphere that is just one percent the density of Earth's.

Perseverance was launched on July 30, 2020 and landed on the surface of Mars on Thursday.

Its prime mission will last just over two years but it is likely to remain operational well beyond that. Its predecessor Curiosity is still functioning eight years after landing on Mars.

Over the coming years, Perseverance will attempt to collect 30 rock and soil samples in sealed tubes to be sent back to Earth sometime in the 2030s for lab analysis.

About the size of an SUV, the craft weighs a ton, is equipped with a seven-foot-long robotic arm, has 19 cameras, two microphones and a suite of cutting-edge instruments.

Mars was warmer and wetter in its distant past, and while previous exploration has determined the planet was habitable, Perseverance is tasked with determining whether it was actually inhabited.

It will begin drilling its first samples in summer, and along the way it will deploy new instruments to scan for organic matter, map chemical composition and zap rocks with a laser to study the vapor.

One experiment involves an instrument that can convert oxygen from Mars' primarily carbon dioxide atmosphere, much like a plant.

The idea is that humans eventually won't need to carry their own oxygen on hypothetical future trips, which is crucial for rocket fuel as well as for breathing. 

The rover is only the fifth to set its wheels down on Mars. The feat was first accomplished in 1997, and all of them have been American. 

The United States is preparing for an eventual human mission to the planet, though planning remains very preliminary.

MARS NASA
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 4, 2021 - 8:06am

Monitor major developments on space explorations and the status of missions.

March 4, 2021 - 8:06am

An unmanned SpaceX rocket exploded on the ground Wednesday after carrying out what had seemed to be a successful flight and landing.

It was the third straight flub involving the prototype of the Starship rocket, which SpaceX hopes one day to send to Mars. The last two test flights ended in crashes.

As seen on SpaceX video, this time the rocket appeared to have landed properly after its flight, although flames were coming out at the bottom and crews were trying to put them out. 

The rocket exploded a few minutes later. It was thrown into the air and crashed back to the ground.  —  AFP

February 19, 2021 - 7:53am

US President Joe Biden hails the "historic" landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars as proof of the power of science and "American ingenuity." 

"Congratulations to NASA and everyone whose hard work made Perseverance's historic landing possible. Today proved once again that with the power of science and American ingenuity, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility," he tweets.

February 19, 2021 - 6:51am

NASA says the Perseverance rover has touched down on the surface of Mars after successfully overcoming a risky landing phase known as the "seven minutes of terror."

"Touchdown confirmed," says operations lead Swati Mohan at around 3:55 pm Eastern Time (2055 GMT) as mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory headquarters erupted in cheers.

The autonomously-guided procedure was completed more than 11 minutes earlier, which is how long it takes for radio signals to return to Earth. —  AFP

December 6, 2020 - 12:44pm

A Chinese probe carrying samples from the lunar surface successfully docks Sunday with a spacecraft orbiting the moon, in another space first for the nation, state media reports.

The manoeuvre was part of the ambitious Chang'e-5 mission — named after a mythical Chinese Moon goddess — to bring back the first lunar samples in four decades.

The cargo capsule carrying lunar rocks and soil lifted off from the surface on Thursday, and docked with the orbiter on Sunday morning, the official Xinhua news agency says, citing the China National Space Administration. —  AFP

December 3, 2020 - 5:24pm

A Chinese space probe sent to gather material from a previously unexplored part of the moon has completed its mission and is preparing to send back the world's first lunar samples in four decades, Beijing says Thursday.

China has poured billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022 and eventually sending humans to the Moon.

The Chang'e-5 spacecraft, named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess, landed on the moon Tuesday and has now completed its gathering of lunar rocks and soil, the China National Space Administration says. —  AFP

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