• Nasa releases new footage from Perseverance landing on Mars

  • Incredible first audio from planet released

  • Major milestones captured during final minutes of entry, descent, and landing

  • ‘These images are the stuff of our dreams’ says Nasa scientist

Nasa has released new video footage from its Perseverance rover showing the moment it touched down on Mars.

The plutonium-powered rover, which is 10ft long, 9ft wide, 7ft high and weighs 126kg, parachuted down onto the red planet on Thursday evening and has begun its epic quest to search for signs of ancient life.

Nasa chose the Jezero crater as its landing site, in the hope that its boulders, ridges, cliffs and pits could be a promising spot to find signs that life once existed.

They also released the amazing first audio recording of sounds from Mars.

10:32 PM

Clean bill of health

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 per cent the density of Earth’s.

09:40 PM

Scientist inspired by watching his daughter backflip

Matt Wallace, Perseverance’s deputy project manager, said he was inspired to find a way to attach a camera to Perseverance to capture its landing after his daughter attached a store-bought camera to herself to record her doing a backflip.

He said: “This was not a camera specifically designed for use on Mars. You can purchase the same camera off the internet for whatever applications you might have for it.

“This is most certainly… as far as I know, this is the first time we’ve been able to see ourselves see our spacecraft land on another planet.”

An image captured by the rover looking up its parachute during the descent - GETTY IMAGES

An image captured by the rover looking up its parachute during the descent – GETTY IMAGES

09:20 PM

‘We binge-watched the videos all weekend’

The video clip of Perseverance landing on Mars shows the heat shield protecting the rover dropping away and the deployment of a massive red-and-white parachute.

The clip, which lasts for three minutes and 25 seconds, then shows the rover’s touchdown in Mars’s Jezero Crater in a cloud of dust.

“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.

“These are really amazing videos,” Mr 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.”

08:55 PM

Exploring ‘is who we are’

The panel are asked why they spend so much money on sending the rover to Mars, as well as other space exploration missions, and why they think it’s worth it.

Nasa’s Matt Wallace says exploring “is part of who we are” as humans, and points out the variety of technological achievements enjoyed by humanity as a result of Nasa-funded space missions, like the GPS in our smartphones.

“It’s in our DNA,” Wallace says. “You couldn’t stop us as a species from exploring. We’re curious.”

08:48 PM

Listen: The first audio from another planet

The Nasa panel are asked about the audio recorded on Mars by the rover. It is the first audio ever recorded by a man-made craft on another planet. Listen to the remarkable sounds here:

NASA · Sounds From Mars: Filters Out Rover Self-Noise

08:40 PM

What happens next?

The rover’s landing was just a snapshot of things to come – including a helicopter flight in space.

The rover also has a travel buddy called Ingenuity, set to be the first helicopter to fly on Mars.

Ingenuity was carried by Perseverance and will soon say goodbye when it attempts flight.

Perseverance will seek a flat, open spot from which to launch Ingenuity. The little helicopter, which weighs less than 2kg, will carry out five tests over 31 days and the first flight will be about 20 seconds long.

Here’s what it might look like:

08:26 PM

‘We only missed by 5 metres’

Now Al Chen says his team have total confidence in their navigation system and the way it communicates between the rover and Nasa HQ. He then says that thanks to this system, Perseverance was able to hit its planned landing zone with almost pinpoint accuracy. Remarkably, he says that the rover landed only 5 metres from the planned landing spot.

08:22 PM

What about future larger spacecraft?

Now the Nasa scientists are asked the question we all want to ask: does this bring closer the prospect of human travel to Mars?

Al Chen jokes that “as far as I’m aware there are no landing pads on Mars” – and says Perseverance’s data will be crucial for future missions to the planet.

One problem is the type and quantity of dust that is on the surface of Mars, which makes landings tricky for craft.

Mr Chen calls the rover’s finds a “rich treasure trove” of potential information that Nasa can use to plan future space missions.

08:11 PM

Stunning new images captured from Mars

Perseverance lands on Mars  - Nasa

Perseverance lands on Mars – Nasa

New images from the surface of Mars

New images from the surface of Mars

Perseverance rover landing on Mars: The heat shield below the rover is ejected and tumbles towards Mars' surface.

Perseverance rover landing on Mars: The heat shield below the rover is ejected and tumbles towards Mars’ surface.

The parachute is deployed, seen here from a camera looking upwards from the back shell, before the descent stage releases the rover. - Nasa

The parachute is deployed, seen here from a camera looking upwards from the back shell, before the descent stage releases the rover. – Nasa

07:43 PM

First sounds recorded from Mars

New video from Nasa’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover chronicles major milestones during the final minutes of its entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on the Red Planet on February 18 as the spacecraft plummeted, parachuted, and rocketed toward the surface of Mars. A microphone on the rover also has provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars.

It sounds like a low-frequency buzz, to the untrained ear. About 10 seconds into the 60-second recording, a Martian breeze is audible for a few seconds, as are mechanical sounds of the rover operating on the surface.

A microphone attached to the rover did not collect usable data during the descent, but the commercial off-the-shelf device survived the highly dynamic descent to the surface and obtained sounds from Jezero Crater on Feb. 20.

Navigation Cameras, or Navcams, aboard NASAs Perseverance Mars rover captured in this view of the rover's deck  - AFP

Navigation Cameras, or Navcams, aboard NASAs Perseverance Mars rover captured in this view of the rover’s deck – AFP

From the moment of parachute inflation, the camera system covers the entirety of the descent process, showing some of the rover’s intense ride to Mars’ Jezero Crater. The footage from high-definition cameras aboard the spacecraft starts seven miles above the surface, showing the supersonic deployment of the most massive parachute ever sent to another world, and ends with the rover’s touchdown in the crater.

07:36 PM

Landing on Mars: when the dust clears… tranquility and grandeur

“Landing on Mars is a rush of tension, drama, and noise,” tweeted the official Nasa Perseveranceaccount. “Then, when the dust clears: tranquility and grandeur. “

The landscape of Mars is magical to see. It appears like a dusty barren landscape with a reddish tinge, pocked-marked by craters.

07:16 PM

‘These images are the stuff of our dreams’ says Nasa

The roughly three-minute video of the landing has just dropped. You can watch the moment here.

“These images are the stuff of our dreams,” says Al Chen, Nasa’s Entry, Descent, and Landing lead, at the press conference.

“These are really amazing videos,” said Michael Watkins, director of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “This is the first time we’ve ever been able to capture an event like the landing on Mars.”

07:15 PM

Press conference begins

David Gruel, Nasa’s Test and Launch Operations Manager, is speaking. He says the team put two cameras on the Rover. One on the top and one on bottom, which captured the landing. There is also a microphone on the port side, but he said unfortunately it did not catch audio.

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