Since we began sending probes to the surface of Mars, our experience of their landings was a nail-biting silence, punctured only by a NASA Mission Control engineer announcing milestones in the spacecraft progress.
That all changed with the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover filming its February 18 landing. Six of the 23 onboard commercial cameras shot high-definition footage of the supersonic descent—dubbed the “7 minutes of terror“—and first surface movements. Three cameras trained on the parachute, while another three videoed the descent stage, rover, and approaching ground. Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Pasadena, California, facility that built the rover and manages the $2.7 billion mission, premiered its high-resolution video during today’s briefing. This marks the first time we’re able to watch a spacecraft land on another planet. “These images and videos are the stuff of our dreams,” said Mars 2020 entry, descent, and landing (EDL) lead engineer Allen Chen.