Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2021 February 20
Explanation: Slung beneath its rocket powered descent stage Perseverance hangs only a few meters above the martian surface, captured here moments before its February 18 touchdown on the Red Planet. The breath-taking, down-looking view followed an intense seven minute trip from the top of the martian atmosphere. The video frame was taken from the descent stage itself during the final skycrane landing maneuver. Three taut mechanical cables about 7 meters long are visible lowering Perseverance, along with an electrical umbilical connection feeding signals (like this image), to a computer on board the car-sized rover. Below Perseverance dust plumes are kicked up from the martian surface by descent rocket engines. Immediately after touchdown, the cables were released allowing the descent stage to fly to a safe distance before exhausting its fuel as planned.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.