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Perseverance rover has landed safely on Mars


A black-and-white image of the Martian surface.

Enlarge (credit: NASA)

NASA’s Perseverance rover has successfully landed on the surface of Mars, transmitting telemetry information and the first images of its landing site. A low-resolution driving-camera image shows a field of dust-covered rocks in the unmistakable shadow of the rover hardware. The early images are so fresh that you can still see the dust kicked up by the landing settling.

The landing came at the end of a cruise through interplanetary space and a dive through the Martian atmosphere, as the rover and its rocket-supported crane shed parachutes, a heat shield, and a lot of speed. The voyage culminated in the skycrane gently lowering the rover to the surface before rocketing off to land at a safe distance.

NASA refers to the landing protocol as “seven minutes of terror” due to its complicated, multistage nature, all of which is run under automated guidance. Adding to the tension, all of the outcomes already happened over 10 minutes ago by the time any indication of their success reaches Earth.

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