Feb 22, 2021
NASA Press Conference Transcript February 22: Perseverance Rover Searches for Life on Mars
NASA mission experts held a press conference on February 22, 2021 to discuss the successful landing of the 2020 Perseverance rover on Mars and the search for life. Read the transcript of the briefing with mission details here.
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Raquel Villanueva: (01:10)
Welcome to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Days ago, NASA’s most sophisticated and capable rover to date landed on Mars, the Perseverance rover. Today, we will see Mars like never before with new photos and videos. Our panel today will help us understand how Perseverance captured what it’s like to land on Mars and what the landing site looks like. I’m your host, Raquel Villanueva. And joining us is Matt Wallace, Perseverance deputy project manager, Dave Gruel, Perseverance entry, descent and landing camera suite lead, Al Chen, Perseverance entry, descent and landing lead, Justin Maki, Perseverance imaging scientist and instrument operations team chief, Jessica Samuels, Perseverance surface mission manager, Ken Williford, Perseverance deputy project scientist. And to tell us what this all means for NASA and exploration, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s science mission directorate. We will take questions during this briefing. If you’re a member of the media on the phone lines, press *1 to be put in the queue. If you’re on social media, use the hashtag countdown to Mars. Now to get us started is JPL director, Mike Watkins. Now I will step aside for him to give his opening remarks.
Mike Watkins: (02:54)
Thank you. Welcome back to JPL. We have a jam packed press conference today. And I was just looking at the team here. I think we’re trying to add it up, maybe 100 years of combined experience with Mars rovers on the panel today. Now we have been working very hard since we landed. The surface team has been getting the rover set up for the surface mission. They’ve been working Mars time over the weekend, making fantastic progress. And you’ll hear about that today. You’ll also see some brand new images and videos that we acquired over the weekend, or downlinked over the weekend. And these are really fantastic images of the surface of Mars and the rest of the descent imagery that we got a preview of on Friday.
Mike Watkins: (03:37)
These images have always been part of the history of JPL. We have taken everyone along with us on our journeys across the solar system, through the rings of Saturn, looking back at the pale blue dot and incredible panoramas on the surface of Mars.
Mike Watkins: (03:52)
This is the first time we’ve been able to actually capture an event like the landing of a spacecraft on Mars. And these are pretty cool videos. And we will learn something by looking at the performance of the vehicle in these videos. But a lot of it is also to bring you along on our journey, our touchdown to Mars, then of course our surface mission as well. And these are really amazing videos. We all binge-watched them over the weekend, if you can call a one minute video binge-watching. But we watched it many, many times, and it’s really fantastic.
Mike Watkins: (04:25)
And just to show you how far we’ve come in history of JPL, I want to show one image. This is from Mariner 4 in 1965. So this was actually the first images sent back from Mars by Mariner 4. And it was hand colored by the engineers according to a code, kind of like a paint by numbers painting. And there it is, the first color image, hand painted. And so when you see these videos later, I think Dave Gruel and Justin Maki will be overjoyed that they didn’t have to hand color each one of these images. So my hat is off. It’s a great press conference today. My hat is off to the team for getting the rover to where we are and these fantastic images down. And to learn more about that team, let me introduce Matt Wallace.
Matt Wallace: (05:11)
Thanks very much, Mike. And thanks for the nice words about the team. I’ll try to be brief because I want to get to this video and I know you do, too. I just wanted to give you a little bit of background now how this whole thing started. My daughter is a gymnast. She’s been a gymnast since she was a little kid. And when she was about, I guess, 11 years old and the project was still in formulation, she asked me for one of those little sports cameras. And being the indulgent parent I am, I got her the sports camera and she put it in the harness that it came with and she put the harness on and she did a back flip. And I don’t know about you, but I cannot do a back flip. But when she showed me the video and I watched that camera pan up to the ceiling and then the room go upside down and then somehow right itself, as she landed on her feet, I felt for a moment that I had a glimpse into what it would be like if I could do a back flip.
Matt Wallace: (06:22)
And that was the moment that inspired a phone call to my friend, Dave Gruel, over here. And that’s what led to the system, this entry, descent and landing camera system, we call them the EDL cams that you’re about to see the product of here just in a moment. Now, I don’t know about you, but it is unlikely at this point in my career that I will pilot a spacecraft down to the surface of Mars. But when you see this imagery, I think you will feel like you are getting a glimpse into what it would be like to land successfully in Jezero Crater with Perseverance. And so without any further delay, I’m going to turn it over to Dave who will describe the system and we’ll get to the video. Thanks.
Dave Gruel: (07:22)
Great. Thanks, Matt. The idea of adding a ruggedized commercial off-the-shelf hardware onto a flagship spacecraft to do a nice-to-have function proved to be quite an interesting challenge that Matt handed over to us. Along the way we encountered one, maybe two people who were a little bit skeptical of what we were trying to do. But thankfully we had the full support of project leadership. All the individuals directly supporting the 2020 mission were super excited to help. And in the end, we were able to actually make it happen. Our EDL cam team kind of were guided by two requirements if you will. The first one was that the entry, descent and landing camera system must do no harm to the flight vehicle. And that’s especially important during EDL. This was our one critical requirement. And as you all saw last Thursday, that requirement was met.
Dave Gruel: (08:23)
The second item is not so much of a requirement as it is a mantra if you will. We get what we get and we don’t get upset. We wanted our EDL cam system to get onto the vehicle and return amazing imagery of the vehicle landing in Jezero Crater on Mars. Like every other element on the Mars 2020 spacecraft, individuals worked really hard and went above and beyond to make sure that their piece of the spacecraft did what it was supposed to do and would be successful.
Dave Gruel: (08:55)
But in the end, we knew that our entry, descent and landing camera system, the mission could still be 100% percent successful if our camera system didn’t work. And if we could even get just one image or one piece of information back during EDL, that we shouldn’t get upset and we should be excited.
Dave Gruel: (09:14)
So as you probably realized, after last Friday’s press conference, the EDL cam system successfully captured some amazing imagery of the vehicle’s descent and landing on the surface of Mars. We collected a little over 30 gigabytes of information and over 23,000 images of the vehicle descending down to the surface of Mars.
Dave Gruel: (09:40)
As a quick introduction, if I could have the first graphic, a reminder for some of you exactly what are the sensors that we included in the entry, descent and landing camera system. There are three cameras that are located on the top of the vehicle on the back shell. Those cameras actually capture high rate 75 frames a second imagery of the parachute inflating in the Martian atmosphere. Now one of the cameras stopped operating coincident with the mortar fire when the parachute was deployed and that’s to be expected. It is a very high dynamic environment, but luckily the other two cameras continued to operate as expected and captured some amazing footage of the parachutes inflating in that Martian atmosphere.
Dave Gruel: (10:23)
We put one camera on the bottom of the descent stage. That camera looked down on the rover. As we lowered the rover on the bridles, the mobility system laxed into position, and then the vehicle touchdown onto the surface of Mars. We also installed two cameras onto the rover, one on the top of the vehicle looking up on the descent stage so the rover could actually see the descent stage, lower it down to the surface, and then ideally fly off into the distance after it had delivered Perseverance safely onto the surface.
Dave Gruel: (10:55)
And then we also put a camera on the bottom of the rover, which actually looked down on the surface of Mars once the heat shield was dropped away. And that camera continued to capture imagery until the vehicle touched down on the surface of Mars. And then we also put a microphone on the port side of the rover. Now, unfortunately I do have to say that we did not collect any audio during EDL, but please stay tuned a little bit later in this press conference because we do have some exciting information about the EDL cam microphone.
Dave Gruel: (11:28)
So now the reaction to the EDL cam videos has been absolutely amazing around JPL. And we’re super excited to actually share with all of you video imagery of Perseverance landing on the surface of Mars. Please roll the video.
Speaker 1: (11:47)
Starting the straighten up and fly right maneuver where the spacecraft will jettison the entry [inaudible 00:11:52] in preparation for parachute deploy and to roll over to give the radar a better look at the ground.
Speaker 2: (12:00)
[inaudible 00:12:00] indicates chute deployed.
Speaker 1: (12:03)
The navigation has confirmed that the parachute has deployed and we are seeing significant deceleration in the velocity. Her current velocity is 430 meters per second at an altitude of about 12 kilometers from the surface of Mars.
Speaker 2: (12:18)
Heat shield sep.
Speaker 1: (12:21)
Perseverance has now slowed to subsonic speeds and the heat shield has been separated. This allows both the radar and the cameras to get their first look at the surface. Current velocity is 145 meters per second at an altitude of about nine and a half kilometers above the surface.
Speaker 2: (12:53)
We have filter converge. [Inaudible 00:12:55] solution 3.3 meters per second, altitude 7.4 kilometers.
Speaker 1: (12:59)
Now has radar locked on the ground. Current velocity is about 100 meters per second. 6.6 kilometers above the surface of Mars.
Speaker 1: (13:11)
Perseverance is continuing to descend on the parachute. We’re coming up on the initialization of terrain relative navigation and subsequently the priming of the landing engines. Her current velocity is about 90 meters per second at an altitude of 4.2 kilometers.
Speaker 2: (13:27)
Speaker 1: (13:34)
We have confirmation that the land division system has produced a valid solution and part of terrain relative navigation.
Speaker 2: (13:41)
[inaudible 00:13:41] TBA is [inaudible 00:13:44]
Speaker 1: (13:43)
We have priming of the landing engines.
Speaker 2: (13:51)
Back shell sep.
Speaker 1: (13:53)
High velocity is 83 meters per second at about 2.6 kilometers from the surface of Mars. We have confirmation that the back shell has separated. We are currently performing the divert maneuver. Current velocity is about 75 meters per second, at an altitude of about a kilometer off the surface of Mars.
Speaker 2: (14:11)
[inaudible 00:14:11] safety bravo.
Speaker 1: (14:14)
We have completed our terrain relative navigation. Current speed is about 30 meters per second. Altitude of about 300 meters off the surface of Mars. We have started our constant velocity accordion, which means we are about to conduct the Skycrane maneuver.
Speaker 1: (14:38)
Skycrane maneuver has started about 20 meters off the surface.
Speaker 2: (14:50)
We’re getting signals from [MRL 00:14:51].
Speaker 3: (14:53)
Speaker 1: (14:54)
Touchdown confirmed. Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the signs of past life.
Dave Gruel: (15:13)
It gives me goosebumps every time I see it. Just amazing. I hope everybody kept their hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times while it was in motion. So I do need to say I wouldn’t be sitting at this podium and you wouldn’t have all seen that amazing imagery without a lot of support from an amazing team, both those who work directly on the EDL cam task as well as those who supported us across the project. I thank you for everything you’ve done to get us here today. Just an amazing, amazing accomplishment. So I’m going to turn it over to Al. Al is going to be our color analyst. He doesn’t have a telestrator, but he’s going to actually walk through some of those videos in even more detail and actually show you some just incredible things that you can actually see once you look at those videos over and over.
Al Chen: (15:59)
I’m not sure the color commentator is supposed to have as many chills as I do right now. And every time I see these videos, but I wanted to add my thanks to the EDL camera team. I mean, these videos and these images are the stuff of our dreams. It’s been what we’ve been dreaming about for years. So thank you so much.
Al Chen: (16:17)
Let’s see. As Dave mentioned, we’ll try to walk through what we see a little bit. We won’t take that much time because we could spend literally all day looking at these videos and some of us have spent all the weekend looking at these videos. But we’ll just try to show you some highlights of what we’ve been seeing and invite you all to continue to look for more things as we kind of see new things every time we look at these videos.
Al Chen: (16:39)
So let’s start with the parachute upload camera. And let me give you a quick warning to not blink because things go really fast here. You can see that you can get a sense really of how violent that parachute deploy and inflation are. The parachute pack, the parachute is packed so densely that the pack is basically the same density as oak and it’s about 150 pounds. It gets launched out of the spacecraft with a mortar, which is basically a cannon, with a muzzle velocity of around 100 miles an hour. And the spacecraft itself was going about 1,000 miles an hour at this point, going about 1.75 times the speed of sound. So just in case you blinked, let’s show you that one more time. You kind of see that in high speed and then real-time, and then we’ll slow it down and take a look at the details.
Al Chen: (17:24)
Okay. So let’s try to walk through this a little bit slower this time at about a quarter speed and we’ll pause at times to point out things we see. So let’s start that rolling. Here you can see the pack getting pushed out of there. You can kind of see the pack right in the middle as it’s being pushed and the parachute lid, which is right on top of it. It’s kind of that circle to the left of the pack was on top of the pack and was there to protect the parachute during entry. It’s got some thermal protection system material on it to keep the parachute nice and cool and protected. And the pack is used to push that lid right off the vehicle, give them that cannon force. You can also see some of the other things that have popped off of that lid, which is kind of expected given how violent this launch really is.
Al Chen: (18:06)
And so let’s move on from here. So we keep going out here. You can see the pack reach what we call line stretch. So that’s as far as it’s going to go. It’s where the parachute is going to start inflating. That’s about 150 feet behind the spacecraft and it got there in just under one second. So this pack is really moving. That’s pretty much, as the parachute starts to come out, you can see the pack is rotated about 90 degrees. That’s pretty common. We’ve seen that in some of our testing here on Earth at high altitude as well.
Al Chen: (18:34)
So let’s keep going and take a look at the inflation. So tat inflation really looks textbook. It’s nice and symmetric. The parachute opens in only about seven 10th of a second. Again, really fast. There’s no evidence of tangling of lines, which is great. There’s about two miles of lines in the parachute system. So the fact that we don’t see any evidence of tangling or any kind of other misbehavior is great news. And I’m sure we’ll be studying this video for many, many years and picking it apart, frame by frame. And of course we have a second camera on board as well that recorded this launch and inflation of the parachute.
Al Chen: (19:09)
You might notice the pattern that’s on the parachute here. Distinct patterns are useful in helping us determine the clocking orientation of the parachute. Also, the contrasting sections can be useful in tracking different positions of the parachute, different portions of the parachute as it inflates. So it’s especially useful when we have multiple cameras as we do here and are trying to track features in the parachute inflating. In addition to enabling incredible science, we hope our efforts in our engineering can inspire others. Sometimes we leave messages in our work for others to find for that purpose. So we invite you all to give it a shot and show your work.
Al Chen: (19:44)
Let’s move on to the rover download camera and take a look at that in a little bit more detail. So if we start that up, you can see the heat shield falling away very nicely and symmetrically. Pausing here, we can take a look at what we see on the heat shield. First, we see the medley components on the heat shield. You can see the electronics box and the gold wires that lead to all the various sensors that measured the aerodynamics and heating during entry, during the entry portion of flight. We can also see some white flecks in different places, both on the heat shield and free flying, which are likely frost that accumulated on the heat shield. That heat shield is really, really cold during [inaudible 00:20:18]. So it’s not at all unexpected to see some of that frost appearing on the heat shield on the inside.
Al Chen: (20:23)
You can also see something we didn’t expect to see if you kind of look at the 4:00 position on the heat shield or so towards the middle, somewhere between the middle and the edge. One of the springs that helped push the heat shield off seems to have come loose. It’s not much of a big deal, but it’s definitely not what we expected. If you look at the other eight springs, they actually are where they’re supposed to be all around the edge of the heat shield. There was no danger to the spacecraft here, but it’s something we expect and think we wouldn’t have seen if we didn’t have the camera system to show us what was going on.
Al Chen: (20:57)
So let’s keep rolling here. We can see that the heat shield basically stays in the same orientation as it flies away from us. It’ll come back into view in a little bit. But this is great. This is kind of what we expected in terms of the aerodynamics of that heat shield. It doesn’t tumble or do something weird that was unexpected in flight. So that’s very useful to have this video to show us that.
Al Chen: (21:16)
So in the interest of time, let’s skip ahead to about 15 seconds before back shell separation. So starting this video here, you can see that the spacecraft is rocking back and forth while hanging under the parachute. This rocking is less than it was earlier in flight, but pretty much what we expect. There that white flash was back shell separation. And you could see us throttle up and begin our divert maneuver. You see the vehicle is turned over, so we’re actually beginning to fly east. And that’s why you can see the delta over there. As it maneuvers eastward to the eventual landing site, the field of view will pass over the landing site and then kind of overshoot it a little bit because it’s got to stop that horizontal divert that we did. You can see everything’s nice and smooth now that the engines are under control. That [inaudible 00:21:58] parachute rocking is gone. So here we are slowing down and stopping it. And we were coming straight down on our eventual landing site here. You can see that as we really begin to slow down here, you can see the engines as we get lower throttle there and stop us here. And you can see it beginning to push all that dust around on the ground on the two sides. That shaking there is the rover deploying and the mobility during the Skycrane. And here we are coming down and that’s a rocking motion of the rover we’ll see in other videos. But that settles down right before we hit the ground in a nice, safe, flat spot. There doesn’t appear to be too much of concern that’s right below us.
Al Chen: (22:35)
So that was the rover’s view looking down. Let’s take a look at the descent stage view looking down as well during that Skycrane portion of flight. So here we go, the rover begins to drop away from the descent stage. And that’s the first part of the mobility deployed. You kind of see here right before we paused, that the mobility kind of shook a little bit in that first deployment. Here, you can see the bridles that are hanging down from the top of the picture. Those are what’s supporting the weight of the rover below the descent stage. And if you look down toward the left, the bottom part of the image and toward the left, you can see that gold umbilical. That’s what’s transferring all the information between the rover and the descent stage, including this video. This picture is coming down from the camera up on the descent stage down to the rover through that cord in addition to other information that’s going back and forth.
Al Chen: (23:23)
So as we keep going here, you can see the bogey that’s on both sides of the mobility [inaudible 00:23:29] you can see those wheels, the back two wheels on either side swing down. That caused a little bit of rocking of the rover as expected, but you can kind of see that kind of settles out a little bit right as we enter that plume and dust cloud, as we get down and touchdown. And the video ends in touchdown, of course, because the camera that’s taking video is about to leave this area in a hurry on that descent stage after we cut it loose from the rover.
Al Chen: (23:53)
So now let’s take a look at the rover upload camera. So now staring up at the descent stage from the rover. So here we go. We’ve got a really close up look at the descent stage, and we can start rolling that. You can see the descent stage as the rover begins to fall away from it and see the effect of that rover wobble from the mobility deploy. So pausing here, the first thing that most people will probably notice is that there’s no plumes or no visible smoke or anything else coming out of the rockets at the corner of the descent stage. That’s expected. Hydrazine isn’t a combustion reaction when we burn it. The exhaust products are nitrogen and hydrogen, which are clear. So we expect the plumes to be clear. That’s what we see in tests here on Earth as well. So I can promise you those engines are on. One thing you can see in the Earth testing we do is that the chambers, the thrust chambers of those engines get kind of hot and glow pink.
Al Chen: (24:43)
And you can kind of see that in the [inaudible 00:24:45] here, especially if you look at the [inaudible 00:24:47] of the very top right of this image. If you look closely, right above the [inaudible 00:24:52] there on the thrust chamber, you can see little streaks of pink on there. And that’s what’s happening. As the engines have been on for a long time, they get really hot. And that heat shows up there in those pink stripes that we see. So take a look at that closely when you get a chance to look at the image in some detail.
Al Chen: (25:09)
As with the previous videos, you can see the bridles that are supporting the weight of the rover there at the bottom now of this image and that umbilical again, transferring data back and forth between the descent stage and the rover.
Al Chen: (25:21)
So let’s keep going a little bit more. You’ll see the image begin to wobble a little bit here. I can promise it’s not the descent stage wobbling. It’s actually that rover tipping back and forth a little bit as we saw as the mobility deploys, both the first initial mobility deploy, and then the bogeys deploying. As we near touchdown, let’s slow it down a bit and proceed in slo-mo here. So now we’re watching about quarter speed. Things are getting pretty dusty here as we get down toward the bottom. Take a look here at the bottom left of this picture. You’ll see actually the instant that we cut the descent stage away. And you’ll see those bridles begin to get retracted up toward that descent stage as they’re pulled up. And this is as planned. [inaudible 00:25:59] see as they got yanked up there right before. And then we’ll see the descent stage begin to turn and ascend and head out toward the northwest with the umbilical dangling behind it.
Al Chen: (26:11)
Since the rover was pointed almost directly to southeast, the descent stage chose to go toward the back. That’s also to make sure of course, that the engines don’t plume the rover, that we don’t damage the rover with that engine thrust. So we sent that descent stage off to the northwest, which Jessica will show you about in a little bit. So I can and have watched those videos for hours. I keep seeing new stuff every time. So I invite you all to do that, too. So now I’ll turn it over to Justin, who will talk to you a little bit about the images we’ve been taking on the ground.
Justin Maki: (26:41)
All right? Thank you, Al. I’m Justin Maki. I’m the Mars 2020 Perseverance imaging scientist here. And I developed imaging systems at JPL. And when Dave asked me to help out with the EDL cam development about six years ago, I was really excited about it. I knew it would be challenging and interesting and even possibly spectacular, but I had no idea that it would be this amazing. And we are so happy and proud. And I just want to thank Dave and Matt for just giving us the leadership and giving us the chance to do this. Like Matt and Jennifer and Rick and others on the project, I’ve actually worked on all five of the NASA rover missions. And as part of my job, I review images from Mars every day. That’s what I do. And when I saw these images come down, I have to say I was truly amazed. And I know it’s been a tough year for everybody, and we’re hoping that maybe these images will help brighten people’s day. Your smartphones and make them your screen backgrounds and things. I’m just really happy that it all worked out.
Justin Maki: (27:50)
So now we’re on Mars and I’m going to talk a little bit about what we’ve been doing over the weekend. Over the weekend, we deployed the RSM. If you go to the first picture, there’s a picture of the remote sensing mass, the RSM.
Justin Maki: (28:03)
There’s a picture of the Remote Sensing Mast, the RSM which is that mast on the Rover and you could see the navigation cameras up there, the left and right navigation cameras, or Navcams as we call them. This is another new imaging system that we’ve developed here specifically for the 2020 mission. These cameras represent a pretty significant advancement over previous imaging systems that we’ve flown. These are 20 megapixel color cameras with very high resolution and wide angle lenses that we use to basically map out the surface as the Rover drives. And then we use these images to do planning and things.
Justin Maki: (28:37)
So, the first thing we did after we deployed the mast is, we started imaging the surface. So the next slide shows one of our first images from the cameras. This image is actually in low resolution mode. So it’s one quarter of the full resolution of the camera, so it’s been shrunk down. But you can see right there, the vista that we’re seeing. This is the Rover, obviously, on Mars. And you [inaudible 00:28:59] some of the material that landed on the deck.
Justin Maki: (29:01)
But everything looks in good shape and so we’re using these images to inspect not only the vehicle but the surface around us. The next slides shows the view down towards the surface. You could see the wheels there. This is the same surface we just saw in the EDL cam videos. You could see some of the scouring that the rocket plumes did for us, clean it off, make it nice and clean so we can take pictures of it, dust it off for us.
Justin Maki: (29:25)
The next slide shows a view looking out towards the South and just an amazing scene here. This is it. This is Mars. We’re here in our place that we’re going to be exploring over the next months and coming years. And it’s just really exciting to see, these scenes look familiar to us. They look Earth-like in a sense, you see the mountains back there and the rocks and things it’s just really is the surface of an alien world. And we just arrived. You can also see some more scouring there over on the right.
Justin Maki: (29:57)
The next image looks over towards the West. You can see the Delta out there in the horizon and again, more scouring from the rocket plums. And then we take all of these images and stitch them together into panoramas. And so the next frame shows the full panorama from the Navcam stitched together.
Justin Maki: (30:18)
We’re still working out with the calibration and things, so this is a approximate color, but it just gives you a feel for the Vista here, our new environment that we’re going to explore. And we’re hoping everyone will join us in seeing these images.
Justin Maki: (30:36)
Today we’re going to be releasing a whole slew of raw images. It’s been a fire hose of data, basically. We have thousands of images already from the ETD cameras, Navcams. You’ve seen the Hazcams. And so we will be putting those out on the website today for people to download and process yourself, or just look at the great pictures. Find your favorite picture and make it your screen background.
Justin Maki: (30:59)
And then the last image that I just wanted to point out is one of the first images from the Mastcam-Z camera. This is another next generation imaging system on the Rover. Jim Bell is the Deputy PI for this working with our industry partners, MS cubed down in San Diego. This is just a fantastic imaging system.
Justin Maki: (31:21)
This is a preview of things to come. This system has a zoom lens on it. That’s what the Z stands for and we’re going to get incredibly high resolution photos from this imaging system. I just want to point out a few things in this picture. On the far right you can see those cables [inaudible 00:31:37] been cut in the video that you just saw. So there’s a kind of a close-up of that.
Justin Maki: (31:41)
And then just in the middle to the left of that, that black instrument, that’s the Rover upload camera. That’s the camera that actually took the video of the Skycrane as we were coming down. And then in the bottom of the frame is the Mastcam-Z Calibration Target set. There’s two of them, there’s the circular one with the shadow post, and then the color chips on the bottom. There’s another caltarget in the back. That’s the Supercam instrument, our partners from Los Alamos and in France, we’re going to be commissioning Supercam over the next few days. And then finally, just as a teaser, I’ll point out that there is a little antenna there to the right on that box in the center-right. That is the helicopter antenna, that’s the helicopter base station location. And a preview of things to come. We’re excited about that as well. So with that, I’m going to turn it over to Jessica to talk about latest status.
Jessica Samuels: (32:27)
All right. Thank you, Justin. I know you can attest firsthand to being in the control room and the excitement that everybody has been experiencing seeing all these images from the surface. And as they come down we’re immediately sharing them and everybody clapping and smiles all around. Great camera suite.
Jessica Samuels: (32:48)
So I am happy to report that Perseverance is healthy and continuing with activities as we had been planning them over the first few sols on the surface. To date, which is really only just three sols of activities and one more coming up later this afternoon, we’ve executed 5,000 commands. So lots of instructions to the vehicle for her to perform and having everything come back exactly how we’ve been wanting it to with respect to our health checkouts and our instrument checkout. Things have been going well.
Jessica Samuels: (33:31)
A couple key highlights, so we have fired and [inaudible 00:33:36] our launch lock restraints to [inaudible 00:33:39] mechanisms to be deployed. We saw the Remote Sensing Mast. But one of those also being the high-gain antenna. Now this is important for the high-gain antenna to be deployed because it increases our uplink rate to the Rover. And so it will allow us to send a higher volume of instructions to Perseverance and allow her to perform more involved activities over the days to come.
Jessica Samuels: (34:08)
Additionally, with respect to our communication, we have established a strong communication link with all of our [inaudible 00:34:17] orbiters and our partners, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Maven Orbiter, Trace Gas Observer, the TGO and Odyssey Spacecraft. And so we thank those teams and are happy to be able to use those assets to relay all of the information that we… All these beautiful images that we are looking at today.
Jessica Samuels: (34:43)
The Remote Sensing Mast motion checks were nominal and as expected. And all of our instruments have gone through their initial checkouts and we’re happy to report that they are all performing nominally and as expected. Now, when I say nominal it really means fantastic because we can’t wait to continue to use this payload suite.
Jessica Samuels: (35:08)
Our backup computer was turned on yesterday, and that was in preparation for our upcoming flight software transition, which will be performing over the next few days. And the Ingenuity helicopter has also been checked out. We have performed a battery charging event, which we will continue to perform over the weeks to come and preparation for that aspect of the mission.
Jessica Samuels: (35:35)
But looking ahead, we are excited to be on our surface flight software. This is much more surface capable, you can have a lot more capabilities for the Surface mission as part of this flight software load. It will take us a few days to transition, but once we’re on that load, it will allow us to do further in depth checkouts of the instrument. As well as deploy the robotic arm and exercise some of the turret items that you see in this image. So you can see that we have our coring drill in the center, our PIXL and SHERLOC instruments mounted to the side. And that black tank is to support the gas dust removal tool, which will remove dust from the surfaces that we will be inspecting later.
Jessica Samuels: (36:24)
Coming up here the wheels, if you noticed in the image, now are off to the side. We will be performing a wiggle, we’ll straighten those up. We’ll do a short drive. And as I mentioned, deploy the robotic arm and then continue with further in-depth checkouts. So we are very excited to be happily on the surface and exercising our system and looking for what’s ahead.
Jessica Samuels: (36:55)
So going back to our partnership with the larger Mars spacecraft and science teams and community, we’re really excited that the MRO, Spacecraft Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the HiRise team was able to find our hardware on the surface of Mars. So if you see in this image, the next pop-up, you can see that we have the decent stage, the parachute and the heat shield all here in this image.
Jessica Samuels: (37:26)
With a few stats here, the descent stage is about 700 meters away from where Perseverance is on the surface. Parachute is about 1.2 kilometers and the heat shield about 1.5 kilometers. And so it’s very exciting that we can see all these different components now that we’ve landed on the surface. And as a special treat, the HiRise image was able to actually acquire the entry descent landing events from their perspective and we can never have enough images of this activity. And so this is a fantastic view. But I’m going to send it back to Dave here. He is part of the suite. We have one more surprise or one more gift, I’ll say, that we’ve been able to receive from this package. Over to you Dave.
Dave Gruel: (38:22)
Thanks, Jessica. So I think we probably have overloaded your visual sense for a little bit. But we’re going to do something a little bit different, and I’m going to have some fun here for a second, too. So I’m going to get rid of this, and I’m going to talk to you now with this. This is the microphone that was part of the EDL camera system. When the EDL cam system was first envisioned it was set up as just a bunch of cameras to recapture some amazing imagery on the surface of Mars.
Dave Gruel: (38:54)
And about a year or so after it was first conceived I got a phone call, another call from Matt, [inaudible 00:38:59] talking to headquarters asked the question, “Could we possibly put a microphone as part of our EDL camera system?” So we worked with the team, we took a look and sure enough it was something that we could do.
Dave Gruel: (39:13)
So we started off that detailed design and identifying a microphone that would work for us and getting it onto the vehicle. About a year after this first started I was giving a tour at JPL, and I happened to mention to the group that I was giving the tour to that the decision had come down and we’re working to actually include a microphone onto the vehicle. And after the tour was done, a gal came up to me and she said some things to me that I won’t forget anytime soon.
Dave Gruel: (39:43)
She said, “I’m super excited that you guys are going to try to put a microphone onto the Rover and get it to the surface of Mars.” And I was very appreciative and I asked her afterwards, I said, “I’m curious, why is it that this relates to you so much?” Her response was that her sister was visually impaired. She not able to see these images that we saw earlier, or that we sent down in the past. And while she tries to describe them to her, she felt that she just can’t quite capture that same sense of amazement that she gets when she gets them visually. And that by actually getting a microphone at the surface of Mars, the hope was that she’d be able to experience things on Mars, the same way that she was when she actually looked at them.
Dave Gruel: (40:27)
That stuck with me. We continued to work super hard to make sure that this microphone worked. And that’s part of the reason we were disappointed why it didn’t work when we actually went and did our Entry, Descent, Landing sequence. I wish I had actually captured that individual’s name. I would love to reach out to her now and say, “We’ve done it. I hope your sister is enjoying it because what I’m going to show you in a second, or what you’re going to hear in a second is actually the first sounds being recorded from the surface of Mars.”
Dave Gruel: (40:55)
There are two microphones on the Perseverance vehicle. There’s this microphone here, part of the Entry, Descent and Landing system. And there’s a second microphone that was on the Supercam instrument. And we’re counting on both of these instruments recording some absolutely amazing sounds from the surface of Mars. So with that, I invite you now, if you would like to close your eyes and just imagine yourself sitting on the surface of Mars and listening to the surroundings. If I could have the first one, please?
Dave Gruel: (41:35)
[inaudible 00:41:35] So that gentle whirl that happens in the background, that is a noise made by the Rover. But yes, what you did here 10 seconds in was an actual wind gust on the surface of Mars, picked up by the microphone and sent back to us here on earth. The instrument indicates that was around a five meter per second type of wind gust. So we can sit here now and actually tell you that we have required sound from the surface of Mars.
Dave Gruel: (42:08)
So we have a second one, which basically further reduced the noise of the Rover so you can just hear what the wind would sound like in Mars. And once again, I invite you to sit back and have a listen to what it would sound like to be on Mars.
Dave Gruel: (42:23)
[inaudible 00:42:23] That’s just, it’s cool. It’s really neat. Overwhelming, if you will. I can’t remember what I was going to go and say next I’m? So I’m looking forward to doing some amazing things with the microphones going forward. We need to work with the Ops team, there’s some great science that they’re looking to do. We’re hopeful that we continue to use these microphones, both the Supercam microphone and the EDLcam microphone to capture sounds, perhaps the rocks interacting with the surface. [inaudible 00:43:09] camera is going to use theirs to get some great data of them zapping rocks.
Dave Gruel: (43:13)
So as you’ve heard, and will continue to hear, we’re just beginning to do amazing things on the surface of Mars. And now Ken is going to talk to you a little bit about the science that we’ve done to date and what they’re looking forward to doing as we continue to move forward.
Ken Williford: (43:27)
Thanks, Dave. And I’ll start by just taking this opportunity to say to Matt, Dave, Al and everybody else on this fantastic team, thank you for the ride of a lifetime. That is just incredible what we’ve seen today and what I’m sure we’ll continue to see as the mission unfolds. So with all the focus on these spectacular videos and audio, we wanted to make sure to remind you that there’s plenty of science going on already with hundreds of team members pouring over every new image.
Ken Williford: (44:01)
So if we can get the first of those images, as you’ll see in this Navcam frame, we start with what may seem like very basic observations. Light rocks, dark rocks, holey rocks… That’s holey with an E. We use these very generic terms at this early stage until we have more data that allow us to test our hypothesis and make more confident interpretations. Follow along with the mission and you’ll see that there’s a theme. As we get closer, our view of Mars continues to resolve an a coherent story emerges. Next image, please?
Ken Williford: (44:42)
Finally, I just want to briefly point out that we are finding real science value in these EDLcam videos. Here, you can see a beautiful new perspective on the Jezero Delta. And, if we can get the next image? Also a new perspective on some of the beautiful stratigraphy around our landing site, which is up near on the far right side of the image. So now to put all of this in context for us, I’ll hand it over to Thomas [inaudible 00:45:14]
Thomas Zurbuchen: (45:17)
Wow. What we’ve seen here today is really nothing short of amazing. And perhaps you have had moments like this before. Some of you have told me that, I was too young to remember, but they had a moment like that, for example, when they observed the first landing on the moon. They had moments like that where it felt that we took a big leap. A big leap, not just in this case because of at JPL or at NASA, but a big leap as humanity.
Thomas Zurbuchen: (45:49)
Of course, it’s a leap that was enabled by work over decades, and on this mission for close to a decade. So what’s possible today, or feels possible, is different even than yesterday. It’s how it feels to make history. That’s how I feel today. I’m so moved by this. Wow.
Thomas Zurbuchen: (46:10)
The video of Perseverance’s descent and landing and the amazing panorama and the first wide landscape shot of Jezero Crater seen with human eyes and the first Martian sounds are the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit.
Thomas Zurbuchen: (46:27)
That video, I believe, should become mandatory viewing for young people who not only want to explore other worlds and build spacecraft to take them there, but also want to be part of diverse teams achieving all the audacious goals of our future.
Thomas Zurbuchen: (46:46)
The center of that as is team, and I’ll ask for the next image. You should know, I met this team… See me there in a dark suit next to Dr. Lori Glaze, the Planetary Division Director and Al, which just talked to you is on his knee there. And the Entry, Descent and Landing team, I met them just hours before that historic landing.
Thomas Zurbuchen: (47:07)
And I love this picture because, of course, the event today demonstrates that, the human aspect of exploration. And that is of course, every reason for what we can do at NASA and also why we do things.
Thomas Zurbuchen: (47:22)
The [inaudible 00:47:24] here are provided to us are from the surface of Mars. And sometimes we forget if we look at that. Well, I hope I shouldn’t get all the fun. We want to make sure that all of us on earth see and feel what it’s like to be on Mars and explore outer worlds. I’m so excited for the more than one million students who joined the Mars Student Challenge and the many more across the world who will be inspired by the release today and even yesterday, their journey is also just the beginning. Just imagine Perseverance sitting on a hill recording the next Martian landing with a cargo that is basically a rocket. And then the first from another world with samples bound for our earth, that are collected by Perseverance now in the near future. Imagining following the Entry, Descent and Landing of the first human crew on the planetary surface some time in the future. These future historic [inaudible 00:48:32] events, which I’m confident will happen, will be enabled by women and men working in diverse teams.
Thomas Zurbuchen: (48:41)
Imagine the goals we can achieve together. So what is possible? Sometimes to address that question it’s good to look back and think where we come from, just like my friend Mike did earlier. You’ve been on a journey both as a human race for quite a while now. And I want to show this next image of Sojourner of the Pathfinder mission which was designed for seven Sols, or Martian days, or something? Maybe 30? Ultimately lasted for 85 earth days in 1997. I remember that really distinctly.
Thomas Zurbuchen: (49:16)
Through Pathfinder and [inaudible 00:49:20] weighed 23 pounds and returned a surprising amount of data back to earth and a surprising amount of science for many scientists, I must say. Some people didn’t expect quite that much. And that’s what happens sometimes, too [inaudible 00:49:36] just like we we’ve seen here. We’ve grown from that [inaudible 00:49:41] Perseverance is the size of a small car and it’s ready for us for the next giant leap.
Thomas Zurbuchen: (49:46)
And here’s a picture that we’re putting up. That is one of the many pictures that where we leave them. And of course it’s a picture, one of my absolute favorites, and that’s a picture of the sample caching system on there. Because, it’s that sample caching system that will connect this mission to the samples that we’ll bring back to earth. And the other historic feed we’re working on.
Thomas Zurbuchen: (50:11)
The system is on the surface of Mars, now. I remember just looking at it before we packed it up from JPL and moved it over then, of course, launched it from the top of a rocket. This my friends, is was one of the indelible moments in NASA’s history where what we can see and what we can learn and what we can hope for in the future and the extraordinary emotions that makes us feel all of us coming together. That human element will [inaudible 00:50:43] our future at Mars, which is bright indeed.
Thomas Zurbuchen: (50:47)
It will fuel the dreams of a new generation that will return to Mars and also study the samples that we will eventually bring home. I’m so grateful to this team and literally thousands, both at JPL and within the US and around the world, all of you have engaged in this mission.
Thomas Zurbuchen: (51:07)
As has to been noted, the raw image pipeline is opening up. Please go take a look at these data and play with them. Especially those of you, the children and the youth that have signed up to our educational campaign. What can you find in these picture? And who’s going to compose the first piece of music with actual Mars sound? Mike, Matt, Jennifer, Al, many of you leaders, I could not be more proud of both you and your team. On behalf of our entire NASA leadership team, a heartfelt and a proud thanks to you. For the record, Matt, I’m so glad for your idea about these cameras. We will learn a lot from that, much more than we ever expected. And of course, this is just a start. For the Surface team and real work starts now to evaluate the surrounding and start a plan and our trajectory across Jezero Crater. It’s a big team and there are lots of discussions, but that’s science inaction. Stay with us. There is much more amazement to come. Back to you, Raquel.
Thank you, Thomas. And we’ll now move on to your questions. Remember, if you are a member of the media on the phone line, you can press star one to get into the queue. If you’re on social media, you can tag questions with the hashtag, countdowntomars. Now, starting on the phone line is Bill Harwood from CBS News.
Bill Harwood: (52:41)
Yeah. Hi. I guess this is for Al or maybe for Matt? I mean, other than the loose spring you guys on the heat shield, is there anything at all in this video that looked off nominal? I mean, it looked like it was almost textbook and I’m not saying that just to give you free praise, but I don’t see anything like that. So, is there anything? Thanks.
Al Chen: (53:05)
I can take that one. We’ve been pouring over those videos and looking for anything that could be wrong, and also looking at the rest of the data. And we did have a pretty clean run through Entry, Descent and Landing. There are a couple of bits of the parachute lid that came off. Some of that was expected. In fact, we knew that there were some risk of that as well.
Al Chen: (53:27)
If you look at the video, you can actually see a chunk. That’s the radome, it’s a cover for one of the low-gain antennas we used during cruise and also during part of EDL. That came off. We had hoped that it wouldn’t and when we tried to restrain it a little bit better, but we knew that it was a risk that it might. So that’s something we noticed that’s on there as well.
Al Chen: (53:48)
There’s a couple of other little things that we’ve been taking a look at, but I think you’re in general right. That the Entry, Descent and Landing system behaved as expected. And it did what it had to do, especially given… And a big shout out to the Terrain Relative Navigation System, which put us down in the safest spot that was available to us. The places that we had to choose from weren’t great if we didn’t have something like Terrain Relative Navigation. So yeah, the landing system worked great.
Great. Thanks Al. And up next, we have Marcia Dunn from the Associated Press.
Marcia Dunn: (54:21)
Yes. Hi. Wonderful video. I’m just wondering, did the JPL team get to see snippets coming down of the video or did you have to wait until this one minute video was put together? What was the reaction when you first saw the video and laid eyes on it? And for David, why do you think the mic didn’t work during Descent? Thank you.
Matt Wallace: (54:46)
I can say a couple words about the first part. I had trouble leaving this mission support area this week just because I kept waiting for every little bit of information to come back, particularly from these cameras, but from the vehicle in general. And I can tell you every time we got something, people were overjoyed, giddy. They were like kids in a candy store. We’d get a thumbnail, which literally is just a really low-res, blobby looking thing of one of those videos that came down first. We’d just be falling on the floor excited with what we were seeing. And that’s before even the hi-res came. There’s a lot of people that have contributed to this Entry, Descent and Landing system. Our Chief Engineer, Adam Steltzner happens to be here in the studio. He was kind of the father of the Skycrane system, this started 15 years ago for him. He and his team have never seen this system operate before, not even on the earth because we can’t test it on the earth. So this is the first time we’ve had a chance as engineers to actually see what we designed. And I just can’t, it’s hard for-
Matt Wallace: (56:03)
See what we designed and I just can’t… It’s hard for me to express just how emotional it was and how exciting it was for everybody as we got this information down. I’ll turn it over to Dave to say a couple of words.
Hey Dave, before you said that. Can I just chime in on the first image of… This is Justin?
I will say, when we get these first images … any of the imaging systems, the test images never look as good as the real thing. It’s not even close. In fact, it’s very hard to simulate a lot of these things, especially these sky cranes and things, and so the images that we normally see during test programs are… There’s almost a ladder in the background or the lighting’s ever quite right, or there’s a car in the case of the EDO cams. We have these big targets out in parking lots, and we were dodging cars to try to do our tests and things. And so that moment that you get these images from Mars, it’s just kind of an electric feeling where it all just snaps into place and you get these pictures that are just perfectly… There are pictures of Mars that you could never simulate here on earth. And I think that we all experienced that, especially after you… We go through months and months of testing, and the images don’t really look that great and people get skeptical like, “Are these cameras really that great, because that looks like a garage or something.” So, it’s just amazing to get these pictures, and I think we all feel that way because we’re all seeing pictures of insides of labs and everything and they’re never that great, but it’s amazing to get these photos from Mars. Okay.
I’ll give you my take. So, Thursday evening and Friday, when the [inaudible 00:57:37] started to come down and we kind of realized what we had. I was sitting at home and my phone started to go off and I was getting FaceTimes from people who were in the MSA, and what was happening was that they were starting to show them on the monitors that we have hanging on the wall, and people were turning their phones around and saying, “[inaudible 00:01:52] you got to see this reaction.” And people were just jumping up and down and giddy and ecstatic. And it was a great feeling. I mean, from where I was sitting, not only was I excited to see these videos that we had captured, it was also the fact that a lot of people had put in a lot of effort into make this system work, and to actually reward that effort and to pay it back and get this excitement going.
It made me super happy. I was glad to see that all the hard work, all the dedication, had come in and that everyone was just excited about not only what we had captured, but also what this mission could do going forward. It was a great feeling. It was a feeling I won’t forget for quite some time. And then regarding the question about the microphone, we started to look at it. What we think happened is that there was a communication error between the device that is responsible for digitizing the analog signal that the microphone picks up and then passing that to the computer that actually stores all the data. We’re not exactly sure why it … been a fact that it was just so much data [inaudible 00:58:56] the system. We tested it, but, obviously everything’s a little bit different on Mars than we actually have here on the ground so. We were pretty quickly able to determine [inaudible 00:59:05] didn’t think there was a hardware issue with the microphone, which is why we’re able to approach the product and get their concurrence to try to turn the microphone on, then on that Saul two boundary. It’s just unfortunate that that error happened during the EDL and we just weren’t able to record any of the data that we generated during the sequence.
Speaker 4: (59:31)
All right. Thanks. And up next, we have [Chris Stephen Port 00:59:31] from the Washington Post.
Chris Stephen Port: (59:34)
Hi, thanks for taking the time and for showing this. I really appreciate it. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the cameras that were used to record the video. I understand they were especially designed maybe by a commercial company called F L I R systems. Just curious to know what goes into designing a camera that sustain the Gs, the blast of the thrusters, everything that it’s got to go through to capture that images. Thanks.
Okay. So the cameras were originally purchased from a company called Point Grey, which was then bought out by FLIR, and I can tell you that … [inaudible 01:00:12] we made to the camera were minimal. This was not a camera specifically designed for use on Mars. You can purchase the same camera off the internet for whatever applications you might have for it. The only things we did is we actually added some bonding material on the inside to try to make sure that, in the dynamic environment of launch, and then that mortar fire event that they talked about, that the camera will continue to operate, and then we had to swap out a couple of pieces on the inside because, in the vacuum of space, they had the ability to out gas material and if that material deposited itself on the detector, then we wouldn’t get this clear images that we actually got, but other than that, it was not specially designed for use for this application. It is a commercial, off the shelf camera.
Speaker 4: (01:01:00)
Thank you. And up next, we have Michael Sheets from CNC.
Michael Sheets: (01:01:08)
Hi y’all, congratulations again on capturing stunning footage of this landing. I’m curious on two aspects, being one, Adam Selter, you guys had said that in 15 years since he really engineered the skycrane, you never actually seen an operation. I’m curious what Adam thinks about … seeing this work on a planet and secondarily, how this informs and how it’s being able to actually see the landing informs future missions, even as NASA looks to one day land astronauts. What does this really teach you about trying to get people on the surface of Mars?
Matt Wallace: (01:01:48)
Well, let’s see. Adam’s not up here, but I can channel him for just a moment perhaps, and tell you that this is a thrill of a lifetime, I think not just for Adam, but all the people that contributed to this architecture, development. Back on Curiosity, I remember when we first briefed this the system with the supersonic parachutes and multi body systems, and we’re going to lower this thing on a tether, and people just looked at us like we were insane, and Adam and his team, of which Al was part, they kept at it and they explained why it made sense. They explained why it was robust. They explained why it would work. It was not easy to build. I will tell you that, as the [flight 01:02:44] manager on Curiosity, but once you build it and once you test it, it’s something that really is designed inherently to interact with the uncertainties that [inaudible 01:02:55] throws that to you.
Matt Wallace: (01:02:57)
And so, I think being able to see his operate like this in high definition, landing at Jezero. It doesn’t get too much better than that I don’t think. So, I’m going to throw it to Al. He can maybe say a few words about the types of technologies and information that we have on the technologies on the system and information we getting back from EDL, and will be getting back as part of our reconstruction activity that feed into the future.
Al Chen: (01:03:30)
Yeah, I think we can talk about a lot of things. But as Matt mentioned, as a fresh faced kid, when this guy [inaudible 01:03:37] was invented and doesn’t have room and… It’s amazing to see it finally in action, even though we knew it worked once. We didn’t know for sure it was going to work again, and then for it to work again, and then for us to see is incredible. And just starting with the skycrane there, you can see some things that I think are going to be useful to the future. One thing that’s of course of a lot of interest, especially as we start landing bigger things is the [plume ground interaction 01:03:58]. The interaction between those rockets and what they’re doing to the ground and how they kick things around, and we’ve got great video of that here this time, both from the Rover down look camera and the descent stage down look camera. We can see how they create those scours and stuff gets pushed together and creates a sheet underneath the Rover. We can see that all occurring. So that’s super useful. The parachute stuff too. One thing we didn’t show necessarily here is that the parachute upload cameras, the two that we got, are at 75 frames per second. So we can see the inflation.
Al Chen: (01:04:29)
That only occurs in 0.7 seconds, in less than a second, and see that snap open and look at all the details of how it unfolds and how it’s metrically inflated. And all those things are very useful for future missions, both whether they’re landing more things and people … or stuff, and then people. [inaudible 01:04:45] other missions are going to use… Future missions like the sample retrieval missions are likely going to use things like parachutes and rockets, of course. So we’re very interested in seeing how those cameras and what we see in those camera images can teach us about how those systems are actually performing and make our systems more robust in the future.
Speaker 4: (01:05:05)
Thanks Al and Matt. Up next, we have Ken Chang from the New York Times.
Ken Chang: (01:05:12)
Hi, thank you. I was wondering if you could give me a few more details about how the data came back. The 30 gigabytes that was collected, how much has come back and what was the date [rate 01:05:21] that you we’re able to send them information back. Thank you.
Matt Wallace: (01:05:26)
Maybe Jessica can…
Jessica Samuels: (01:05:28)
So I can say that as part of our commission activity, we actually walk the data rate up over the course of our different overflights with the orbiters. And so we start with two [inaudible 01:05:42] a lower rate, 2000, 8000, and then we increase that into an adaptive data rate with the orbiter in which we can continue to go many megabits of… Sorry two meg, and then much further beyond that over the course. The total volume that I don’t have off the top of my head and so maybe… I don’t know if that’s something that Dave or we can provide for you later.
Matt Wallace: (01:06:11)
Justin, do you have how many images we got back?
So we counted yesterday, that we’re releasing today, there was about [inaudible 01:06:19] that we’ve gotten so far that we’re pushing out to the web today, and I will mention that when the orbiters could fly overhead, the compasses typically return, let’s say 500 to 900 megabits per pass. And we’ve had, I don’t know. We’ve had a lot of them now, like five or ten of them.
Jessica Samuels: (01:06:38)
We’ve typically had about two to three overflights per night, and it does vary. The rates I was [inaudible 01:06:43] the communication rates from the Rover to the orbiter, and then once that’s collected, then we’re anywhere from… Some passes … smaller, 80 to a 100, and where we’ve had other passes, which have been significant amounts of data, up at 700, and so it is variable per orbiter and per orientation.
Yeah, and I would add one more thing I wanted to mention about the camera technology and then this data. We hadn’t mentioned it, but in addition to use commercial cameras, we’re using a commercial computer, an Intel based PC that’s running Linux, open source. So first open source, at least that I know of, open source Linux box running on the surface of Mars. Definitely inside the Rover. It’s quite compact. And so there’s the Linux operating system, and we compress the video using FFmpeg, which is another open source tool. So thank you to the open source community for allowing us to use your amazing software. Appreciate it.
Matt Wallace: (01:07:43)
Just very briefly, I just want to note, as Jessica said, you saw some of the terrific imagery from the Mars reconnaissance orbiter. We’ve been getting fantastic support from the orbiter community. Not just MRO, for both that imagery and the coms, but also from MAVEN, which is a Goddard spacecraft, from Odyssey, one of our older orbiters. [inaudible 01:08:07] European trace gas orbiter as well. Some of the biggest data volume passes we’ve had brought back a lot of this imagery, came from our partners in Europe, and thank you all to them.
Speaker 4: (01:08:21)
And up next on the phone lines is Mike Wall from space.com.
Mike Wall : (01:08:28)
Thank you all for doing this, and yeah. It’s really amazing video. Thanks for sharing it. Just a question for Dave. What do you anticipate doing maybe with the EDL mic now that it’s up and running? Do you see it having any kind of diagnostic uses during the deployments of the robotic arm and sort of … the instrument checkouts and so forth? Yeah. I mean, what do you see it doing aside from recording Martian wind and the sound of the dirt under the wheels and so on? Thank you.
Yes. We’ve had a lot of discussion about how we might be able to use both the EDL cam microphone and the supercam microphone to do those types of diagnostic stuff. I mean the ops team right now… I don’t want to speak to Jessica, but they’re focused on getting those system deployed and capturing noise of that [is 01:09:13] definitely not the first priority. They need to focus on getting this vehicle ready to perform some amazing science, but that doesn’t mean in the future we could not sit down and discuss the possibility of capturing audio files of an actuator as it actually spins on the surface of Mars. The noise is an incredible thing that engineers can use to basically detect the health of moving systems. Gears and actuators and things like that. And so, if we get a snapshot of a actuator today and… You can compare over time, do another snapshot, another audio file of that actuator in the future.
Compare the two and see if there’s anything that can be learned in terms of the health of that device. Now, with that said, I do need to remind everybody that the microphone that’s in the EDL camera system, just like all of the cameras and other hardware, is off the shelf hardware. It is not designed to live in the hostile environment of Mars. It gets down 120 degrees plus below zero at night and then it warms up definitely more. [ The day 01:10:14], what? Minus 40 years or something like that. So those temperature cycles in that cold temperature are going to significantly limit the life of these devices. They’re just not designed to last for long periods of time. The supercam microphone might continue to work. It actually is designed a little bit more for this particular environment. It can last longer. As you heard, I think Dr. Z mentioned earlier, we’re always surprised by how rugged and robust some of our items are, how long they actually last. They continue to operate far longer than we designed them. We’ve gotten pretty lucky over the last couple of days. Perhaps we get lucky and the hardware will continue to operate on the surface of Mars and allow us to do those types of diagnostic things in the future. Jess, you want to add anything more about how you might consider using them?
Jessica Samuels: (01:11:01)
Well, I can say that that application was one of the things that we had projected and tested and wanted to make sure that even though this was a capability that was part of the cruise and entry to sentient … landing software package that we’re operating right now. We’ve also carried that capability forward into our surface software. And so, assuming the hardware’s good, we’re open and ready to use it.
Yep. And I will mention, to the question, we actually have gotten requests from instrument teams wanting to turn on the microphone to observe their instrument functioning. Moxie is one of the instruments. It’s going to be generating oxygen, has compressors and scroll pumps and things. They actually want us to use the microphones to do diagnostic acoustic measurements. So I actually think that this might become something that all Rovers might want, because everybody knows that when you hear something squeaking, it’s [inaudible 01:11:56], maybe you need to check it out, and it tells you a little bit about how it works. And so we will find out how these get used. It’s actually kind of exciting, and we’re getting requests from the teams. So we’re going to… And we’re working to put those into the plan.
Matt Wallace: (01:12:10)
I’ll just say, I hope it does survive long enough so that we can hear those wheels crunch over the surface of the planet, because I think we would hear it, and I think it’d be great to hear that big rotary percussive jackhammer drill, taking that first sample of a rock on Mars as well. I think we’d hear that also. So I’m hopeful that our little microphone will hang in there for some of those events.
Speaker 4: (01:12:39)
Great, and up next is Lisa Grossman from Science News.
Lisa Grossman: (01:12:45)
Hi, thanks for taking my question. The video is amazing and a lot of it looks a lot like the animations that you shown before the landing to kind of advertise this. Excuse me. Going forward, how will you distinguish the real video from the animation to kind of make it clear to people what they’re looking at and keep them from getting confused or not be fuel for conspiracy theorists that we haven’t actually done this?
Al Chen: (01:13:12)
I guess I could try and take that one. I mean, I think we should label very clearly which ones are from Mars and not. I think it’s clear to a lot of us, but I think you’re right, given the way that the animation’s been pretty good. You get an a… I get a sense for how that could be confusing. I think we should label them going forward. Now that we have this kind of a… We should be clear. What’s real.
What a great problem to have.
Al Chen: (01:13:36)
Exactly. I mean, it’s an amazing problem to have.
Matt Wallace: (01:13:38)
Justin, do you have anything? Any thoughts here?
Yeah. I can attest to… It’s real. It’s actually real. I know, because I know the data very well. It’s stunning and it’s real, and that was our thought too when we first saw it. We’re like, “Wow, this looks like… Doesn’t look real,” but it is. And that’s what’s so amazing about it. And I know I’ve seen some of the video games are getting pretty good. Second glance, you look at a sports game and it looks like it’s real, but it’s fake, but this is actually real stuff and that’s why it’s so exciting. And I actually just want to say for those of you that go watch the videos, personally I like watching at a quarter speed or even slower, because there’s so much detail in there that anyone who’s done animations know that those… That would take a lot of time to do, and it all happens so quickly and the camera cut everything, and so that’s how we know it’s real because we know so much about these systems, but there’s just so much detail. That’s one way that you could look at, but yeah.
Al Chen: (01:14:40)
There’s one other thing I forgot too. I remember early, MSL, when they started coming up with the animation for Curiosity’s landing, we had a discussion about the plumes actually coming out of this end stage, and the fact that they were clear and that you wouldn’t see them in real life. You don’t see them in the Rover up look camera, but we thought that it would be … that people would be expecting to see them in the animation. So they took some artistic license in putting them there. So, here I can tell you now that hopefully our future animations will show the right thing and show the clear plumes like you see in the real video.
Yeah. And the same comment for the exquisite detail on the Rover. If you actually look, every Cal targets in place, every little twist in every cable tie, they’re all there. In the animations, usually don’t have that. When you get down to that level of detail, at least now you typically don’t, because a lot of the things happen kind of last minute, and as the Rover’s getting built and people slap things on and they’re not in the drawings, so the animators don’t pick it up. And that’s another thing that’s amazing about this video. Every single detail is in there. So, encourage people to look at it. It’s fun.
Speaker 4: (01:15:46)
Thanks, Justin. It really is some beautiful [inaudible 01:15:48]. Now we have a social media question to take. Jerome on Twitter asks, some pictures we can see dirt and small rocks inside the wheel rim. Was this expected and will it become an issue if more dust and sand is picked up along the way?
Jessica Samuels: (01:16:05)
Yep. I can. I can speak to that. So it’s not uncommon for us to have rocks and dirt inside the wheels, either from the landing event or as we’re driving across the surface. You’ll also notice on the deck, we also experienced some of that debris coming down on top of the Rover and we design our [inaudible 01:16:27] for these conditions. So we don’t expect any issue with the material from the landing event or as we continue to … rove across the surface.
Speaker 4: (01:16:40)
Thanks, Jessica. And right now we have a call from Eric Berger on ARS Technica.
Eric Berger: (01:16:49)
Yes. Hi, thank you very much for doing this. Congratulations on such a stunning array of photos and videos. Alan Chang, or Al Chang mentioned the dust earlier, and it was striking as the spacecraft got close to the surface, how much was kicked up. It’s a one ton Rover. It’s pretty sizeable, but when you’re talking about human missions, it’s much larger and so, what does being able to see this dust tell us about the challenge of landing future kind of much larger spacecraft on Mars? Is that something that you’re going to have to account for and if… Is it going to be a really significant issue to deal with? Thank you.
Al Chen: (01:17:27)
Yeah, I think I can take that one. I mean, I think as most people know, right there, as far as I’m aware, there are no landing pads on Mars or barges that we can land on, prepared places. So we’re going to have to deal with, especially if we’re going to use repulsion. We’re going to have to deal with this plume ground interaction. And it’s really difficult. It’s difficult to get right. To get the modeling right, to get to understand … or even to do a real test that shows a good impression of what you’re going to come down on, especially when you don’t know exactly where you’re going and what the terrain is like and what the ground properties are where you’re coming down. So I do think this is the big challenge for us going forward. And that’s why collecting this information here is useful.
Al Chen: (01:18:05)
We can certainly begin to see how it actually behaved in real life and see how things began to move and what the scours are like, and then we have a vehicle that’ll tell us what the ground that we happened to land on was like, and we know how we were commanding those engines and where they were pointed. So we have a rich treasure trove here of … that we can use to kind of get at that kind of challenge, because I do think it’s a big one, especially as we start to land heavier and heavier things with bigger and bigger engines.
Speaker 4: (01:18:34)
And up next on the phone lines is Joey Roulette from The Verge.
Joey Roulette: (01:18:39)
Hey, thanks for doing this. Earlier it was mentioned that scientists are already pouring through the thousands and thousands of images and I was just wondering, what about the surface of the rocks that you guys have seen so far from these images are standing out, and kind of what has been interesting from a scientific perspective? Thanks.
Matt Wallace: (01:19:02)
Matt Wallace: (01:19:04)
Sure. So you can go online and see that image that was put up during my little bit there, but we’re noticing basically the different colors that we see and textures and tones. And so one thing that’s striking to me, standing out to me and some of us, is that a lot of the rocks that are labeled as light rocks seem to have a rough texture, whereas some of the darker rocks for their field, that are higher standing or like large boulders, seem to be smoother. That can mean something about the grain size and the … potentially the composition of the rocks themselves. One of the things we’re noting as the resolution gets better is that these light rocks closer to the foreground may actually be kind of dark on the inside, and that the light tone we see may be largely due to dust covering and where the rocks stand up a bit higher and have less dust, they tend to appear dark.
So a lot of new patterns are emerging. And then of course, one of the most exciting and interesting things are these, what we call the Holy rocks, that are in some cases right under our wheels and these smaller cobbles that are right around the Rover. I didn’t mention, but one of the possibilities for those holes is that they are what we would call vesticals, which would be a gas escape from a volcanic rock. We’re not calling them [inaudible 01:20:42] at this point because it’s important for us to stay open to the different possible interpretations and not get locked in yet on limited data, but if they are a volcanic … that is enormously important to us because it potentially provides an opportunity to get a really nice radiometric age or an absolute date if a sample like that comes back to Earth. But then again, if you go back to images from many previous Mars missions, rovers and otherwise, you’ll see that wind abrasion can cause those sorts of holes in all different types of rocks. So just a few of the thoughts that are emerging, and then of course we’re starting to get views of the [Delta 01:21:27] front now, which just have us on cloud nine … some of the targets further a field that, that we’re excited to explore.
Speaker 4: (01:21:36)
Great. Thanks Ken. We have another phone line question. [inaudible 01:21:39] Zastrow from Astronomy Magazine.
Hi, thanks for taking my question. I guess this is a question for Al, and I was just wondering if you could speak to the performance of the landing bidding system, if you’ve gotten a chance to dive into that, how the [inaudible 01:21:57] and terrain relative navigation really performed and just sort of what it was thinking, how it was making its decisions as it descended. And then when you look at its performance and accuracy, how do you judge it and can you see that improvement over Curiosity?
Al Chen: (01:22:13)
Yeah, that’d be great. I mean, I was really hoping for a chance to speak to that a little bit actually. The lander division system as part of the train relative navigation system really did great. In fact, here’s some stats, right? Based on the targeted… We took many images on the way down. We got tons of landmarks. We were very able to match up what we saw with our on-board map. It was almost perfect. Better than many of our field tests or even simulations. So we got a very good lock on where we were. And in fact, when you combine that with our safe target selection and where we flew to, we only missed the targeted pixel by about five meters. So we were aiming for a particular spot on the planet once it decided what was reachable and what the safest spot was, and given how well the lander vision system performed and our system in flying us there, we only missed by five meters. So that was really great. We really showed that this system can do what we wanted it to do, and helping us figure out where to go and go to a safe spot.
Speaker 4: (01:23:12)
Great. Thanks Al. We have so many questions coming in that we are going to keep the phone lines open for a little while longer … press star one to get in our queue. For now, I’m going to take a social media question from Bob on Twitter, who asks, how does the processing power of the onboard computer compared to a great smartphone? Matt, do you want to take that one?
Matt Wallace: (01:23:35)
Yeah, sure. That’s a good question. In the space business, we have to build things that we know are going to work, and space is a pretty hostile environment and the surface of Mars is even worse with the temperature swings which we were talking about. You need systems that are capable of dealing with the radiation and the temperatures and really perform with very high reliability. So as a result of that.
Matt Wallace: (01:24:03)
… And really perform with very high reliability. So as a result of that, we have a tendency to use systems that have been around for a while, that are well shaken out. And on Perseverance, we’re using the same computer that we used on Curiosity, in large part because we know it worked and we wanted to have that successful flight heritage that we had from the previous mission. So this is a computer that you would have found 15 or maybe even 20 years ago that we’re flying.
Matt Wallace: (01:24:32)
Having said that, these EDL cameras, which we were just talking about, are off the shelf, state-of-the-art, new technology, and it is always [inaudible 01:24:45] when we have the opportunity, like we did in this particular application, to bring that kind of technology into our systems. It’s a very powerful way to multiply our functionality and our capability. And so, this was a great example of being able to use new technology. So I don’t know if that’s an exact answer to the question, but in short that’s a summary.
Raquel Villanueva: (01:25:17)
Great. Thank you, Matt. And, Thomas, we actually have a question for you coming in. Hayden, an 11-year-old from Ireland, on Twitter asks, “What advice would you give to a budding planetary scientist in working towards maybe being part of the mission that will bring back samples to Earth in the future?”
Oh, I’m so glad for that question. I think about that a lot. The advice I would give is, first of all, that’s exactly the right time to get into that career. There could not be a better time to join that career, even if you started 10 years earlier or in 10 years. Now is the time to start that.
The advice I would give is, look, go really start playing with data right away. I mean, yes, go to school. The teachers that are there are your allies going forward, to eventually probably open you perhaps at a university or at an advanced school. But go to school, do that.
But the other thing I want to just give you advice on, Hayden, is we’re putting all these data out. Be your own researcher, learn how to do that, go play with it, that’s what research is so much about, and find others who are just excited, as excited as you are. And I’m sure, soon enough, we’ll have you on our teams in the future.
Raquel Villanueva: (01:26:42)
That’s some great advice. Thank you, Thomas. Up next, we have on the phone lines Alexandra Witze from Nature magazine.
Alexandra Witze: (01:26:52)
Great. Thanks very much. I’m not quite sure who to address this to, but I wanted to ask about Insight and whether Insight had heard Perseverance landing.
Matt Wallace: (01:27:04)
So I’m not sure anybody up here has the latest information. Do you, Al? Have you heard anything new? J.
Just heard it from other folks on the team. I’m not sure if this is official or not, but that they hadn’t seen much yet.
Matt Wallace: (01:27:15)
I think we’d have to check, to be honest, to be sure we get the right answer.
Raquel Villanueva: (01:27:21)
Great. Thank you. And then another phone line question from Jacqui Goddard from The Times of London.
Jacqui Goddard: (01:27:28)
Hello. Congratulations, everyone. One of the most common questions that I get from readers, who aren’t generally a scientific audience but regular folks, is what is the point of spending all this money to go to another planet and explore it? Sometimes that’s not even a question, it’s a statement. There are cynics out there. Can you say why we explore and how does humanity benefit from you finding out what you find out and doing what you do? Thank you.
Raquel Villanueva: (01:28:00)
If anyone who wants to [inaudible 01:28:01] to answer.
Matt Wallace: (01:28:02)
I can. Or, Thomas, did you want to-
Raquel Villanueva: (01:28:03)
Thomas might want to comment.
Yeah. Why don’t I? Why don’t I? I’ll start and turn it over to you, Matt? Is that okay if I start, Matt? Are you good with that?
Matt Wallace: (01:28:13)
Yeah, that’d be great.
So I’m thinking about this question all the time. Why do we explore? Of course, when we want to be do at NASA, I just want to just let everybody know that if you look at how much money we’re spending on each planet and the exploration of each planet, of course, the majority … The planet we’re spending most money on, of course, is the Earth, the place where we live, where our friends live, where our history is, where our future is going to be. And so, we’re not confused about the importance and just as excited about the amazing future of exploration is going forward.
Exploration, for us, is always broader than just what is useful right now. The reason we’re so convinced that that is important is, first of all, the questions that have driven humanity, important questions, truly historic questions, in so many ways are what we’re really about, addressing those, and what we’re really about as humans.
We want to be sure [inaudible 01:29:15] we look at our contributions of our generations, that we really move forward what we know, and how it also really affect how we think about ourselves, and that so often comes through research.
There’s a second reason, though. It it’s truly secondary, but I’m going to mention it anyway. So often, unsurprisingly, the results of the technologies that we’re building for the very questions that are really driven by fundamental science questions are extremely useful. I just want to remind you that perhaps today, whoever asked that question, is driving around in a car with a GPS system built for an entirely different purpose and looked at the weather forecast [inaudible 01:30:02] not anticipated when, in fact, we built the first Earth satellite.
So, yes, we want to focus on the immediate needs today, and it’s really important, but it’s so critical for us as a species to look forward and explore. Matt, to you.
Matt Wallace: (01:30:19)
Thanks, Thomas. I think you said it really well. You know, I’ve been landing things on Mars now for 25-plus years. And so, I’ve had a chance to go out and talk to a lot of different people. It’s not unusual when somebody asks this question, and I used to have a long list of reasons, and there are a good long list of reasons.
Matt Wallace: (01:30:43)
But, fundamentally, I’ve come to the conclusion that in some ways it’s a moot question because how can we not explore? It’s just who we are. It’s what we are. It’s in our DNA. You couldn’t stop us as a species from exploring, I don’t think.
Matt Wallace: (01:31:02)
I think it’s part of the reason why we’re at the top of the food chain is because we’re curious, because we want to go to places we haven’t been, we want to answer questions we don’t know the answer to. Sometimes we want to find the questions we don’t even know need to be asked. It’s just part of who we are.
Matt Wallace: (01:31:24)
It opens new horizons, new frontiers. It inspires us, it inspires kids. As Thomas mentioned, all the academic programs that are paying attention here, to science, to technology that we bring to the table, that’s important for us. I think that’s the best I can do to answer that question. There’s a lot of reasons.
Raquel Villanueva: (01:31:56)
All right. We can move on now to another call from Matt Kaplan from Planetary Radio.
Matt Kaplan: (01:32:05)
Hi, everyone. Congratulations from not just me, but all of the Planetary Society. I’ve been texting with our boss, Bill Nye the Science Guy, who has been watching everything along with us. Here’s part of his reaction: “Oh my, this is astonishing. Astonishing, dare mighty things.”
Matt Kaplan: (01:32:26)
But here’s my question for Ken Williford. Ken, getting these first images and video from so much closer to the surface of Mars than we have from the orbiters, in spite of the great job that they’re capable of, does this start to make you think about the potential of doing this on a regular basis from balloons or, let’s say, a helicopter?
Ken Williford: (01:32:54)
Well, sure. Almost everything I’m thinking about right now is potential. I guess I’ve compared it to several people who’ve asked me how I’m feeling. “What’s it like?” The closest thing I can compare it to is, I would say, the birth of my daughter, where the cruise phase that’s about eight months long is like that nine-month period where you’re just waiting and you’re just hoping everything goes right. Then she’s born. In this case, we’re on the surface, and it’s real. The potential is astounding.
Ken Williford: (01:33:32)
I mean Katie Stack and I were just texting last night as we got some new images down, and we’re so excited, like kids just looking at every picture and seeing so many new things and having so many new ideas and new questions are appearing. The potential of it all is what strikes me more than anything.
Ken Williford: (01:33:56)
We have so far to go, so much to learn, and I just couldn’t be more grateful to have made this transition from all the years of hard work and stress and wondering is it going to work out, how’s it going to work out to now when we actually get to do this thing. It’s amazing.
Raquel Villanueva: (01:34:19)
Great. Thanks, Ken. Up next, we have Irene Klotz from Aviation Week.
Irene Klotz: (01:34:26)
Thanks. Just looking ahead of it, what’s been … This is probably for Jessica. Have you made any progress homing in on a site for the helicopter flight demos? If so, about how far from the Perseverance landing site are those?
So the team has started to evaluate and is using the images that we’ve received from entry, descent, landing, as well as now these images that we’ve acquired over the last couple of sols. We are fortunate to have landed in a potential spot for that, but the team is still evaluating and is looking forward to additional imaging from the 360-degree panorama from the Mastcam-Z, as well as future data that’s to come down.
So we have not locked in a site yet. That will still be work for the team to go looking forward, whether it’s here or a few hundred meters away.
Raquel Villanueva: (01:35:27)
Great. We have a social media question coming in. Jake, who is 12 years old, on YouTube asks, “Was there one point you thought that this would be impossible to do?”
Matt Wallace: (01:35:44)
That’s a great question, Jake. There might’ve been many points when it felt a little impossible. I’ll give you my one moment, and then the other folks may want to add in. That’s last March, when the COVID pandemic struck. W just shipped the spacecraft down to Kennedy.
Matt Wallace: (01:36:09)
Dave Gruel, who, believe it or not, this whole EDL camera gig is not what he does for a living. He was our assembly test and launch operations manager. He, along with his deputy, Art Thompson, were responsible for assembling the flight spacecraft, testing it, and getting it down to the launch pad for launch. That’s actually what he did for a day job.
Matt Wallace: (01:36:33)
So the pandemic struck about a year ago, and Dave and I and Art and others were just constantly on the phone trying to figure out how to react to it and how to respond to it. I said it before, we didn’t have a lot of margin. We didn’t have a lot of time. We were figuring out a lot of things as quickly as we could.
Matt Wallace: (01:36:56)
Our focus was shifted from trying to get the spacecraft built and tested correctly and staying on schedule for the launch, because if you miss it, you’ve got to wait two years for these planetary launches to Mars. Suddenly our whole focus had to change to keeping the people safe and keeping their family safe as a number one priority.
Matt Wallace: (01:37:16)
And I wasn’t sure. Honestly, I wasn’t sure we could do that. I knew that if we couldn’t keep them just as safe as they would be at home doing other things, that that could be it for us for this opportunity.
Matt Wallace: (01:37:31)
We got tremendous support across the board from the institution, here at JPL, from headquarters, Thomas, and SMD, and we got through it. But that was the existential moment for me, that time right there, the first three to six weeks after COVID really hit hard. So anybody else?
Same answer. Yeah, exactly.
Matt Wallace: (01:38:01)
Same answers, okay.
I’ll add to that one of the things that’s interesting about these jobs we have are we spend years, I mean seven or eight years for me and all of these guys, years and years of work building, testing, making sure it’s going to work. I’d say there’s some stress involved when you spend seven years of your career doing something, and then it all comes down to like one moment.
For me, it’s obviously this first images that come from the cameras. You really want that to work, like really, really want it to work. You’ve tried everything you could do to make sure it’ll work. But it’s definitely … We try to be open-minded about what could go wrong. We try to cover all our bases.
That’s one of the great things JPL is that there’s a team of people here, really smart people. You go to these reviews to review your product, your designs. We call them withering reviews. You get a lot of tough questions. But JPL is a real gem of a place because we built this culture of always questioning what could go wrong, but hoping for the best. It’s a really interesting experience. I think we all share that.
Yeah, I will agree. I think we invite the feedback from each other and our reviewers to make sure that we are thinking about all the things that we need to think about and pushing ourselves to meet those challenges. I mean, of course, you want it all to work, but there are some things that you worry that you didn’t think about. But as a community and as a collective and as a team, we use each other to help make sure that we’re covering those bases.
Raquel Villanueva: (01:39:53)
I think the team really did persevere and we are here today. Up next, is Leo Enright from Irish television.
Leo Enright: (01:40:01)
Thanks very much, Raquel. I just realized there’s no doubt about it, 12-year-olds definitely ask the best questions. But if you’ll forgive me for going geeky on this, could somebody talk to the traversability of Canyon [Duchay 01:40:20] now that you’ve seen these amazing pictures? Do you think that you can just simply turn around the rover and head directly west northwest, possibly right past the descent stage, or, realistically, are you going to have to go to the northeast, around Olympic, and then to [inaudible 01:40:45] foyer? I’m sorry for being geeky, but it’s a serious question. Can you move quickly?
So I’ll comment and I’ll let Ken comment also. We have spent, as we do in our development program, as we were mentioning, a lot of time in different conditions to evaluate the performance of our system. One of the things that we did on this mission compared to other missions was to enhance that traversability capability with enhanced autonomous navigation and as well as processing while we’re driving to increase our drive rates.
Now we have many more images still to assess in terms of evaluating our path forward, but I’ll let Ken speak to maybe some of the areas that we are interested in pursuing. What’s really great is that we work together with the science and engineering team to evaluate those paths and what sort of terrain is the best for our system.
Yeah. So it’s a great question. It’s our major focus right now on the science team is answering exactly that question. What are we going to do? What do we want to do? Where do we want to go? I’ll say, first of all, we’re so extraordinarily happy about exactly where we’ve put down because we ended up right on this major geologic feature, this contact, we call it, between two differently mapped units. And so, you see there’s this undulating feature, this obvious line that we’re landed right next to, and that’s the big contact.
One of the major features we were hoping to explore in this mission, and it presents for us one of the big mysteries, I mentioned the possible vesicles. It gets down to one of the big questions for us early on is what is that crater floor made of? Are there igneous rocks there, sedimentary rocks, both? There’s a lot of implications for both.
So what I would say we’re probably currently leaning toward is exploring that contact, and that would lead us more, I think, to the second of the two options. But we’ll see. We’ve got a good amount of time while the team does the commissioning and checks all the systems out.
During that time, we’ll be digesting all those new images and doing a lot of strategic planning, evaluating different options, arguing amongst ourselves in the team. Right this press conference is over, our first science team meeting post-landing starts immediately after that. So we’ll start talking about just those things. So we’ll see.
Raquel Villanueva: (01:43:46)
Great. Thank you, Jessica and Ken. Up next, we have Steven Gorman from Reuters news.
Steven Gorman: (01:43:55)
Hi, thank you very much. Can you hear me okay?
Raquel Villanueva: (01:43:57)
Yes, we can.
Steven Gorman: (01:43:58)
Yeah. So my question is I have like a question about the superlatives regarding the video footage of the EDL sequence and the audio of that gust of wind that was picked up on the Martian surface by the mic. So I believe, is it correct to say, that this video marks the first moving footage of a spacecraft [inaudible 01:44:20] showing its descent and landing on the surface of another world, Mars or any world, I think, including the moon or an asteroid or anything [inaudible 01:44:32]?
Steven Gorman: (01:44:31)
Then, secondly, likewise, is this the first [inaudible 01:44:35] recording ever made on Mars or any celestial objects other than Earth, or just the first one that was made that’s been played back on Earth? I was wondering if you could just clarify that.
Matt Wallace: (01:44:47)
Matt Wallace: (01:44:48)
Let’s see. On your first question, putting aside the Apollo program and the moon and just talking about planets, this is most certainly … I’m pretty sure, as far as I know, this is the first time we’ve been able see ourselves, see our spacecraft land on another planet. Hopefully that answers the question that you asked.
Matt Wallace: (01:45:16)
As far as sound, I’m not sure anybody else has any more information, but again, to the best of my knowledge, this is the first planetary sound that’s been recorded. So, yeah, go ahead, Justin.
I can add to that. In terms of sound, the Insight lander has a seismometer on it, and they did measure seismic signals that were acoustically driven, and then rendered that as audio. So that could be potentially another one.
But in terms of imaging and doing video, MSL did have a descent imager that did video, three and a half frames per second. So it was a little slower. That was the [Marti 01:46:01] instrument.
We’ve also done a time lapse of deployments of things on Insight. We’ve deployed a seismometer and we do time lapse video. Mars Pathfinder, we did time lapse video of the rover driving down onto the surface. But then again, it was this time lapse, so seconds in between frames. You’ve probably seen those. They’re all out on the internet, the rover movies. I’ve worked on that as a postdoc actually.
But this is definitely the best video of any of them. So I think we can at least say that pretty definitively. It’s a whole another level of capabilities that we now have.
Raquel Villanueva: (01:46:42)
Great. Well, that is all the time we have for questions today. Thank you so much to our panelists. We, unfortunately, can’t answer all the media questions on there. For those with additional questions, please call JPL’s digital news and media office. Our social media team will continue to answer questions online, and we have a Reddit AMA with Perseverance team members starting at 1:00 PM, Pacific Time, today.
Raquel Villanueva: (01:47:09)
Now to see the raw images of Mars, visit mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/multimedia/raw-images. For more updates on the mission, visit nasa.gov/perseverance and mars.nasa.gov/perseverance. You can also follow us on social media using @NASAPersevere. I’m Raquel Villanueva. Thanks for watching.
Speaker 1: (01:47:40)
Starting to 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.
Speaker 5: (01:47:59)
Also, it indicates chute deployed.
Speaker 1: (01:48:03)
Navigation has confirmed that the parachute has deployed and we’re seeing significant deceleration in the velocity. Our current velocity is 450 meters per second at an altitude of about 12 kilometers from the surface of Mars.
Speaker 5: (01:48:18)
Heat shield [inaudible 01:48:19].
Speaker 1: (01:48:20)
Perseverance has now slowed to subsonic speeds and the heat shield has been separated. This allows both the radar and the cameras to get their first look at the surface. Current velocity is 145 meters per second and an altitude of about 9.5 kilometers above the surface.
Now filter converge. Last [inaudible 01:48:55] solution 3.3 meters per second, altitude 7.4 kilometers.
Speaker 1: (01:48:59)
Now has radar lock on the ground. Current velocity is about 100 meters per second. 656 kilometers [inaudible 01:49:06] off the surface [inaudible 01:49:08]. Perseverance is continuing to descend on the parachute. We are [inaudible 01:49:16] on the initialization of terrain-relative navigation and subsequently the priming of the landing engines. Our current velocity is about 90 meters per second at an altitude of 4.2 kilometers.
Speaker 1: (01:49:34)
We have confirmation that the lander vision system has produced a valid solution and part of terrain-relative navigation.
[inaudible 01:49:42] CVAs are nominal.
Speaker 1: (01:49:43)
We have planning of the landing engines.
[inaudible 01:49:51] set.
Speaker 1: (01:49:53)
Current velocity is 82 meters per second at about 2.6 kilometers from the surface of Mars. We have confirmation that the back shell has separated. We are currently performing the divert maneuver. Current velocity is about 75 meters per second at an altitude of about a kilometer off the surface of Mars.
[inaudible 01:50:11] Bravo.
Speaker 1: (01:50:14)
We have completed our terrain-relative navigation. Current speed is about 30 meters per second, altitude is about 300 meters off the surface of Mars. We just started our constant velocity accordion, which means when we’re about to conduct the Skycrane maneuver. Skycrane maneuver has started about 20 meters off the surface.
Getting signals from MRL.
Speaker 1: (01:50:54)
Touchdown confirmed. Perseverance [inaudible 01:50:56] safely on the surface of Mars ready to begin seeking the signs of past life.