The wild NASA picture exhibits the Perseverance Rover shortly earlier than Mars landing

Welcome to Mars, Perseverance Rover. This breathtaking view was captured during the landing process when the rover was lowered to the surface.


This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series on exploring the red planet.

We have a new iconic image of space exploration, and it’s every bit as powerful as the best Apollo pictures of the moon. NASA’s Perseverance Rover landed successfully on the surface of Mars on Thursday and there were a number of cameras to see the action.

The rover sent some back first Low resolution surface imagesBut NASA has started releasing some real stunners, including a wild downward view of the rover being lowered to Mars with the dramatic “Sky crane” maneuver.

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“The moment my team dreamed of for years is now a reality,” the Perseverance team tweeted when sharing the picture. “Dare mighty things.”

The picture gives a full view of the rover with the dusty and rocky surface of Mars below. “This shot from a camera on my ‘jetpack’ catches me in midair just before my wheels hit,” NASA said in a follow-up tweet.

The HiRise camera team for NASA’s Mar Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) also delivered an incredible shot of the rover descending to the surface. MRO was 700 kilometers from Perseverance at the time, but still had a view of the rover’s descent step and parachute.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this distant image of the Perseverance Rover’s descent to Mars. The picture opposite shows a closer look.

NASA / JPL / University of Arizona

The MRO image is noteworthy for the level of difficulty required to capture it. “The extreme distance and the high speeds of the two spaceships were challenging conditions that required precise timing. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had to both lean up and roll sharply to the left so that HiRise could see the persistence at the right moment,” said the HiRise team said in a statement on Friday.

The rover is busy sending data back from the red planet. The entry, descent, and landing (EDL) process has been captured by cameras and microphones, which should eventually give us an unprecedented look at the infamous “seven minutes of terror” required to land on Mars.

NASA expects to release more of the landing by Monday and will hopefully have audio to share, provided the systems worked as planned. By then, that first stunning EDL photo could be the newest entry to the Space Imagery Hall of Fame, right next to that Pale blue point and the Pillars of creation.

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