News 28.3.2024

High speed winds during the parachute descent of the Perseverance rover were reconstructed

Scientists at FMI have reconstructed the path of NASA’s Perseverance rover during its parachute landing on Mars.
Photo: NASA-JPL-Caltech

Scientists found Perseverance drifted across the surface of Jezero crater during the descent due to high-speed winds. Together, with international colleagues, they found the winds could be reproduced using high resolution atmospheric modelling. Most likely, this means the complex terrain at Jezero crater is helping to generate the high-speed winds. For example, in the modeling of the Earth's atmosphere, a resolution of about one kilometer is required so that the model can produce the fast winds generated by rugged terrain. 

At one point during the parachute descent, starting from 12 km altitude, the maximum wind speed was found to be over 100 kph. However, due to the thin atmosphere of Mars, this equates to the force of a gentle breeze on Earth and has little impact on the parachute.  

Scientists have effectively given the Martian atmospheric models, which are based on Earth models, a stress test and checked that they are working correctly. Scientific investigations made from the surface using Perseverance’s humidity and pressure sensors, which are based on FMI and Vaisala technology, can then benefit from a better understanding of the winds at the surface as well as those above it. 

More information: 

Senior Scientist Mark Paton, tel. 050 430 2984, 

Link to article: Inferred wind speed and direction during the descent and landing of Perseverance on Mars - ScienceDirect 

Paton, M. D., Savijärvi, H., Harri, A. -M., Leino, J., Bertran, T., Viúdez-Moreiras, D., Lorenz, R. D., Newman, C., Inferred wind speed and direction during the descent and landing of Perseverance on Mars, Icarus, 415, 116045 (2024).