"You’re looking at the real deal images I used to make my pinpoint landing."
Landing on Mars
NASA has released an incredible video, stitched together from shots its Perseverance rover took right before landing on Mars on February 18th.
"You’re looking at the real deal images I used to make my pinpoint landing," a tweet by the rover's official Twitter account reads.
The video kicks off with the heat shield being blown off, revealing the camera below. The rover then plummets towards the surface at breakneck speeds, occasionally dipping left and right before touching down.
You’re looking at the real deal images I used to make my pinpoint landing. This is how I quickly got my bearings and picked the safest target in the last three minutes before touchdown. How it works: https://t.co/Q1dBl8ZH8x pic.twitter.com/HK6uuKbLcQ
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) March 11, 2021
The video demonstrates Perseverance's "Terrain-Relative Navigation" system, a sophisticated landing technique that allowed the rover to pick the perfect landing site by first taking a bunch of photos — as seen in the video — and comparing them to existing orbital maps of the surface below in order to make any diversions if necessary.
According to NASA, the "technique had an estimation error of about 0.6 - 1.2 miles (about 1-2 kilometers), which grows to about (2 - 3 kilometers) during entry."
The same system also helped the rover determine where it was relative to the ground, with an accuracy of just 130 feet.
During Perseverance's descent, engineers were also able to take valuable data from the heat shield's performance, making sure that future rovers will survive their "seven minutes of hell" as they descend through the Martian atmosphere.
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