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NASA releases first audio, landing video from Mars

February 23, 2021

The Perseverance rover has sent back the first audio clip from the Red Planet, capturing a faint Martian breeze. The longer video shows the remarkable moment the rover touched down on the surface.

NASA's Preserverance rover on the surface of Mars
New images released by NASA show the deck of Preserverance Mars rover photographed on the Red Planet's surface. This view provides a good look at PIXL (the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry), one of the instruments onboard.Image: NASA/AFP

US space agency NASA has released a video and the first ever audio clip from Mars, a faint wind sound captured by the Perseverance rover.

Several images of the landing were released earlier, but it took days for the video signal to be relayed to Earth. 

The 3 minute 25 second video clip released on Monday shows the last few kilometers of Perseverance's trip.

After the parachute opens during the descent, the spacecraft touches down on the dusty red surface of the planet.

"These are really amazing videos," Michael Watkins, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said at a briefing for reporters. "This is the first time we've ever been able to capture an event like the landing on Mars. We all watched them over the weekend many, many times."

NASA also released several new higher resolution panoramic images during the press conference.

What does Mars sound like?

Though the two onboard microphones weren't turned on during the descent, the rover was able to capture audio once it landed.

The short audio clip may not be spectacular, but it is the first sound recording from another planet.

NASA is building a "Martian playlist," collected on the website, Sounds of Mars.

"Stay tuned," said  NASA. "We may soon hear the sounds of another world."

Mission update

The newly-launched rover is operating as expected, said Jessica Samuels, Perseverance's surface mission manager.

"I am happy to report that Perseverance is healthy," she said.

In another mission update, the small helicopter Ingenuity, which was delivered by the rover, sent its first status report to the control center in Pasadena, California. According to NASA, it too appears to be "functioning perfectly."

Still attached to the underside of Perseverance, the helicopter will begin exploring Mars in 30 to 60 days, offering viewers a bird's-eye view of the surface.

It would be the first flight of an air vehicle over another planet.

What's next?

Perseverance's main mission is to search for traces of past microbial life on Mars and study the planet's climate and geology.

The rover itself weighs about 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) and is the size of a small car.

On Thursday it set off on another mission, a risky maneuver to a dried up lake called Jezero Crater. With a diameter of about 45 kilometers (28 miles), Perseverance will explore the crater over the next two years.

Europe and Mars Exploration

mb/rs (AFP, DPA, Reuters)