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NASA Mars video feels like a sci-fi movie: See the images

A case of life imitating art, more than 30 million miles away

On Monday, NASA unveiled the breathtaking footage of the Perseverance rover landing on Mars.

More than any other Mars mission before it, this one was loaded with cameras to offer a front-row seat to landing on another planet.

The resulting video should give any fan of sci-fi movies a little déjà vu. Except this is all real.

Photo: NASA/JPL CalTech

Here is the parachute opening, some four minutes into the "seven minutes of terror," shot by the parachute look-up camera, positioned on the backshell of the spacecraft.

Here is that near-perfect opening, replayed at 30 percent of its original speed.

Next, the heat shield separates from the spacecraft and is discarded onto the Martian soil below. Watch as it falls from the bottom of the spacecraft and floats away.

The Mars 2020 spacecraft already had a landing area in mind. Now it looks for a more precise spot. This video is captured by the Rover Down-Look Camera about 1 kilometer (6/10 mile) above the surface of Mars.

Aided by an onboard computer and A.I., Perseverance looks for a suitable landing location. The rover is set to spend 687 days on Mars, the equivalent of one Martian year, hunting for clues of ancient microbial life.

As it gets closer, this is the view from the Perseverance rover up at the spacecraft carrying it and executing the "sky crane maneuver" to set it down. This is about 20 meters (65 feet) above the Martian surface.

Here's the view from the spacecraft as it's about to gently set down the Perseverance rover onto the rocky sediment of Mars. This video is being shot with the Descent Stage Down-Look camera.

Here's the spacecraft flying a safe distance away from Perseverance.


Of course, the cameras aren't critical to the mission of the Perseverance rover, which is to look for signs of ancient life on the red planet.

"The mission could still be 100% successful if our camera system didn't work."

— Dave Gruel, Perseverance EDL camera lead at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab


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