NASA’s latest Mars rover landed on the red planet last Thursday. The disadvantage of “watching live” is that you cannot get a good view of the action, due to the distance between our worlds. Today NASA released a new video showing the daring landing up close, and you should check it out. Then drive persistence through your house and visit Mars with a new free AR app.
Landing a Mars Rover is extremely difficult. It is so difficult that only 40% of the rovers sent to Mars have landed successfully, regardless of which agency sent it. The whole sequence takes about seven minutes, and it takes about 1
In the case of Persistence, that means slowing down through the planet’s orbit, deploying a parachute, throwing off a heat shield, getting a radar lock on a suitable landing site, and navigating to that location. Then the rover must shed its outer shell, fire beams from an overhead crane, lower it off the crane, and land softly enough to survive.
If something goes wrong, there is nothing NASA can do. By the time the space agency knows, it will be too late to save the rover, which is what made Perseverance’s successful landing so monumental. But while the live stream gave us information and responses in real time, we couldn’t see what was going on. Now NASA has released a video showing the landing from unprecedented angles. The rover has cameras, and so do the overhead crane and other pieces.
Watch the video and you can see perseverance fall to Mars, watch the parachute deploy and watch as the final moments of the landing take place. It’s a long video with a lot of information, but it’s worth watching. We even jumped to the landing for you.
Once you’ve watched the video, you may want to learn more about the Perseverance rover. It is a much larger, more advanced Mars rover than we previously sent. Thanks to built-in cameras and microphones, it already sends back images and audio from our planetary neighbor.
But if you want a little more first-hand, check out the Augmented reality app Mission to Mars (for iOS and Android). The AR app has quite a few features with hours of educational content. You can compare the new Perseverance rover app with the previous machines to see the size and equipment spacing.
But the real fun is in the augmented reality capabilities. You can put Mars in your living room and then drive around the rover. It will shrink to fit the available area, but if you have the space you can make AR Perseverance full size.
The educational app even has a few game features that are worth checking out. In one mode, you try to land Perseverance on Mars, which means deploying a parachute, firing thrusters, and more. If you crash, the game will tell you why.
But by far the visually appealing mode is Portal to Mars. That mode gives you a “holodeck” -like experience, allowing you to step through a doorway to Mars. Look back and you will see your house, but turn around and you can walk up to the Perseverance rover and get a sense of the rocky terrain of Mars.
At the moment, the app mainly relies on data about the rovers provided by NASA as well as images and audio created by previous rovers. But the Smithsonian Channel says it will update the app with new photos and audio taken by Perseverance. Best of all, the app is free and ad-free. You can download it now on Google Play and the Apple App Store.