Onboard Video of the Perseverance Rover Landing is the Most Incredible Thing I've Ever Seen

The Mars rover sends back real-time video of its entire descent and landing on Mars

1 min read
This high-resolution still image is part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. A camera aboard the descent stage captured this shot.
This high-resolution still image is part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. A camera aboard the descent stage captured this shot.
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

At a press conference this afternoon, NASA released a new video showing, in real-time and full color, the entire descent and landing of the Perseverance Mars rover. The video begins with the deployment of the parachute, and ends with the Skycrane cutting the rover free and flying away. It’s the most mind-blowing three minutes of video I have ever seen. 

Descent video cameras active on the Mars 2020 rover. The cameras that recorded video during the Mars 2020 rover’s landing on Mars. Image: NASA/JPL

Some very quick context: during landing, multiple cameras were recording the event, and this video is a combination of these. No audio was recorded, so you’re hearing a feed from JPL mission control.

Here’s the video:

We’ll have a lot more on the Perseverance rover, but for now, we’re just going to let this video sink in.

[ Mars 2020 ]

The Conversation (0)

How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

11 min read
Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman
LightGreen

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less