Mars 2020 rover landing: NASA images show expectations vs. reality
Perseverance rover landed safely on Mars on February 18, 2021 — the end of a journey to the Red Planet that began seven months earlier.
Here's the payload last summer, packed and ready for launch.
Here's the Atlas V 541 rocket on July 30, 2020. It's launching the rover from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Five rocket boosters got it off the ground with extreme oomph.
The Mars 2020 spacecraft neared Mars on Thursday, February 18, 2021. This rendering shows what NASA expected it to be like.
The 70.5-foot parachute deployed four minutes into the "seven minutes of terror" and slowed down the spacecraft to 200 mph.
This is cool: The "backshell separation" went off perfectly, as the spacecraft entered a powered descent using reverse-rocket thrusters. Velocity crept along at 17 mph.
"Mission team members have mapped in advance the safest areas of the landing zone. If Perseverance can tell that it’s headed for more hazardous terrain, it picks the safest spot it can reach and gets ready for the next dramatic step." —NASA
Here's the expected drop...
And here's the reality:
This photo was shared by NASA on Friday of Perseverance as photographed from the Mars 2020 spacecraft when it was setting the rover on the Martian soil.
Let's take a closer look...
Nestled in a safe blue zone.
After making the drop, the Mars 2020 spacecraft flew a safe distance away from the rover.
Perseverance rover was left in the Jezero Crater. It shortly sent back a ghostly photo of the Red Planet. Click ahead to see it...