The Perseverance rover has put its record-breaking number of cameras to fast use since touching down on Mars, already sending house photos and video of the purple planet, which NASA has launched to the general public.
However how precisely has it managed to shoot such high-quality footage and ship it again to earth so shortly?
These aren’t the primary photos we have now of Mars, however not like those taken by Curiosity – Perseverance’s older sibling that landed in 2012 – these are in full colour utilizing 20MP cameras, relatively than the measly 1MP black-and-white cameras from earlier than.
Together with video of the touchdown course of, NASA additionally put out an interactive 360-degree panoramic picture of Perseverance’s touchdown web site, utilizing actual photos taken by the rover on Mars.
How have been the video and pictures taken?
Perseverance’s mission is all about knowledge assortment, looking for completely any signal of life it probably can, so it’s been outfitted with loads of spectacular instruments. In relation to the photographs we’ve seen, they’re due to the rover’s 23 cameras – seven of which have been simply to doc the entry, descent, and touchdown of the craft.
Utilizing cameras positioned on the rover, its parachute and its sky crane – a hovering machine that lowers the rover extra rigorously onto Mars – Perseverance was in a position to seize the primary full video of a rover touchdown (beneath), relatively than the jerky stop motion Curiosity pulled-off.
Touchdown is without doubt one of the most demanding elements of the rover’s mission, with large warmth and a speedy descent via the ambiance each able to trigger issues and finish the mission earlier than it might even start.
This new footage ought to assist NASA scientists perceive the method extra totally and make enhancements to their subsequent Mars touchdown.
The seize of the 360-degree panorama was barely totally different, making use of the Navcam on Perseverance’s ‘head’ beneath.
As Justin Maki, NASA Perseverance’s imaging scientist and instrument operations group chief defined in a Tweet on the topic, the panorama was stitched collectively utilizing a number of pictures and solely exhibits “approximate colour” of the vista across the rover.
NASA says it has 1000’s of photos already and you’ll obtain the full-size photos from the Mars Perseverance raw images library.
“It has been a firehose of knowledge.”Justin Maki, @NASAPersevere imaging scientist and instrument operations group chief, reveals a full panorama the rover captured from the floor of Mars: pic.twitter.com/rPExz93glkFebruary 22, 2021
How have been these photos despatched to Earth?
It is one factor taking pictures on Mars – the better technical problem is then getting them again to Earth. In spite of everything, you’ll be able to’t simply ping them off in an e-mail or add them to Google Images as we are able to right here.
That is the place Nasa’s MAVEN satellite tv for pc steps in. Not solely has it been tasked with monitoring Mars’ ambiance, however almost six-and-a-half years after it started orbiting the planet, MAVEN has develop into an integral a part of Perseverance’s mission as a telecommunications relay.
Utilizing its ultra-high frequency (UNF) radio transceiver, MAVEN is ready to transmit knowledge at a max price of about 2048 kbps (kilobits per second) between Earth and the rover. It does this from an adjusted orbit which it took on final 12 months in preparation for Perseverance’s arrival.
Within the US the typical broadband velocity is about 120 Mbps (megabits per second), or round 60 occasions sooner, so NASA additionally used some intelligent compression to get the picture knowledge again shortly.
In a Reddit AMA with scientists and engineers engaged on Perseverance, Adam Nelessen (EDL Cameras Engineer, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory) defined how this was executed: “A key a part of the EDL (Entry, Descent and Touchdown) Cameras instrument is a small pc on the Rover referred to as the Information Storage Unit (DSU). The DSU saved uncooked photos from the 6 EDL Cameras (Rover Uplook, Rover Downlook, Descent Stage Downlook, and Parachute Uplook) and audio captured by the microphone,” he mentioned.
“We have been in a position to compress the uncooked photos into movies proper there on Mars on the DSU, which cuts down dramatically on the info quantity wanted to ship the merchandise again to Earth for all of us to feast our eyes on!”.
The excellent news is that NASA hasn’t obtained all the photos from Mars but, “simply the movies of the actually high precedence occasions”, in response to Adam Nelessen. However NASA thinks we’ll get full-resolution imagery “over the approaching months”, which is nice information for anybody hoping to make use of it as their new wallpaper.
What is going to Perseverance take photos of subsequent?
One piece of footage NASA hopes to seize subsequent is a pictures and video of Ingenuity in flight on Mars. Ingenuity is a drone-sized helicopter that dropped with Perseverance and is meant to be the primary helicopter to fly on one other planet.
Perseverance will take photos and recordings of Ingenuity’s checks to assist NASA verify if flight is feasible on Mars like it’s on Earth, when it launches within the subsequent month or two.
And in response to a Reddit AMA with scientists engaged on the Perseverance Rover, the “the Mastcam-Z and navigation cameras will try to take photos and probably video of Ingenuity’s flight”.
The rover can be fitted with a SkyCam. The aim is to take science-quality photos of the sky above Perseverance to indicate what the celebs appear like from one other planet. In the identical Reddit AMA, scientists and engineers working for NASA advised followers to remain tuned for these photos to be launched sooner or later, too.
Most significantly, Perseverance can have lots of rock photos to ship again to Earth. As a part of Perseverance’s mission to search for indicators of life it will likely be analyzing the composition of rocks it finds. The rover will do that utilizing its all-in-one digital camera, laser, and spectrometer SuperCam, which may additionally make a shockwave to clear mud from surfaces it needs to research.