For the first time ever, you can watch a rover landing on Mars. And it’s epic on many levels.
Human beings have been dropping machines on Mars since the 1970s: landers that parachuted to the surface, rovers that were destroyed during landing, and later rovers that survived their landings inside giant, bouncing cushions of airbags. Now powerful skycranes lower NASA rovers to the surface. But in all that time, all those spectacular successes and failures have taken place out of sight on another world. That changed with Perseverance.
NASA outfitted the Perseverance rover and its landing vehicle, which arrived on the Red Planet Feb. 18, with a collection of high-quality, high-speed video cameras to capture the “seven minutes of terror,” as engineers refer to the plunge to the Martian surface. The cameras were set up to offer viewers front-row seats to the final two chapters of the trucklike machine’s plunge from solar orbit onto the Martian dirt: the parachute and the skycrane.