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Perseverance's Video Cameras Capture Rover's Arrival On Mars

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. For the first time ever, we have video from another planet that includes sound. On Thursday, NASA landed its rover Perseverance on Mars on the Jezero Crater.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Yesterday, they released video from the rover's descent. Here's how it sounded from mission control when that happened last week.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED NASA EMPLOYEE: We are starting the straighten up and fly right maneuver, where the spacecraft will jettison the entry balance masses in preparation for parachute deploy and to roll over to give the radar a better look at the ground.

INSKEEP: You can see the rover's parachute expanding as the craft decelerates. Al Chen is part of the Perseverance mission and explained just how much power was behind that descent.

AL CHEN: It gets launched out of the spacecraft with a mortar, which is basically a cannon, with a muzzle velocity of around 100 mph. And the spacecraft itself was going about 1,000 mph at this point, going about 1.75 times the speed of sound.

INSKEEP: So a gentle landing was not guaranteed. As the rover rocketed toward the dull, pink, pockmarked surface of Mars, NASA staffers held their breath - a flurry of dust as it got closer, and then success.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SWATI MOHAN: Touchdown confirmed - Perseverance safely...

(CHEERING)

MOHAN: ...On the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the signs of past life.

(APPLAUSE, CHEERING)

MARTIN: Such a cool moment. There are six small cameras on the rover. One shows Perseverance rolling through Mars' rocky terrain. It's located high on the rover's mast. It also helps with driving. And there are two microphones on the spacecraft, so there's just a bit of audio.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARS AMBIENCE)

MARTIN: Which is awesome - it sounds like the heartbeat of Mars.

INSKEEP: Yeah. And next comes the effort to find signs of past life. The mission for Perseverance will persevere for about 687 Earth days.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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