On February 18, 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars. But the rover didn’t even wait until it had landed to start taking photos and videos of the historic event. Here are some incredible Perseverance Mars landing photos, including one that was shot before the rover even touched Marian soil.
Perseverance Mars Landing Photos
NASA just shared this amazing photo of the Perseverance Mars landing showing the rover in midair before its wheels even touched the surface of Mars.
This higher resolution photo took longer to transmit back to Earth than the images from lower resolution black and white navigation cameras previously shared by NASA. This image below was taken moments after the successful Perseverance Mars landing.
Unlike previous rovers that have landed on Mars using balloons and parachutes, the Preserverience Mars rover used a jetpack to slow its descent. Here’s a mockup from NASA showing what the Preserverience Mars landing would have looked like from a 3rd party perspective.
The Perseverance Mars rover is equipped with Mastcam-Z imagers and NASA plans on sharing lots of new high-quality photos from Perseverance in the coming Martian sols (aka Martian days).
NASA’s History Of Mars Rover Landings
Although the USSR was the first country to reach Martian orbit with a lander, their attempts between 1971-1973 to successfully land a device on Mars all ended in failure. Even though the USSR’s Mars 2 lander failed during descent, it was the first device to technically “touch” Martian soil.
NASA’s first Mars landers were the Viking 1 and Viking 2 in 1976. The two stationary landers successfully landed on Mars and operated from 1976 to 1980 (Viking 2) and 1982 (Viking 1). The Viking missions transmitted over 50,000 photos and the first set of data about the surface of Mars back to Earth.
Then in 1997, NASA’s Pathfinder mission landed humanity’s first-ever rover on Mars called the Sojourner. The difference between a rover and a lander is a lander does not move. So the Sojourner was the first device to land on Mars that was capable of movement. Unfortunately, the Sojourner rover stopped communicating after three months on the red planet.
In 2004, the United States landed two more rovers on Mars, called Spirit and Opportunity. NASA lost communication with Spirit in 2010 but Opportunity continued to operate until 2018 when a large sandstorm on Mars covered up its solar panels.
But Opportunity wasn’t alone on Mars for long. It was joined by the Curiosity rover in 2012, which is still operational today. Curiosity’s mission is to search for the history of water and organic life on Mars.
In 2018, NASA landed another lander on Mars called the InSight. The InSight’s mission is to test the deep soil of Mars with a heat flow probe and seismometer.
Perseverance is the United States’ fifth rover to land on Mars since 1997. It’s also the most technologically advanced. Unlike other rovers that have landed on Mars, the Perseverance is nuclear-powered, not solar-powered. This change is expected to help Perseverance better survive the dusty and windy environment on Mars. Perseverance is also a lot bigger than previous rovers. Perseverance is the size of a car and weighs about 1 ton.
More Countries Are Now Exploring Mars
The United States is no longer alone in its efforts to explore Mars. In addition to Perseverance, both the Hope orbiter from the United Arab Emirates Space Agency and China‘s Tianwen-1 combination orbiter, lander, and rover entered Martian orbit this month.
The Hope orbiter’s mission is to examine the atmosphere around Mars, but the Tianwen-1 plans on releasing a rover to the surface sometime in May. If the Tianwen-1 rover successfully lands on the surface, then China will become the second country to land a rover on Mars.