Michaels, Robert A. Mars rover landing conjures images of 1900s odyssey. Letter, Schenectady, New York; Daily Gazette, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/349570937_Michaels_Robert_A_Mars_rover_landing_conjures_images_of_1900s_odyssey_Letter_Schenectady_New_York_Daily_Gazette_24_February_2021, 24 February 2021;
The perilous arrival of the Mars rover Perseverance at Jezero Crater on Feb. 18 inspires me to place two of its technologies in a larger perspective. On approach, Perseverance used instruments to plot its course to the surface, much as a shark detects odors and vibrations to plot its course to potential prey. On approach, a shark may switch to visual instrumentation to attack. On approach, Perseverance likewise switched to visual, using photographs of potential landing sites transmitted from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. As Perseverance descended, it compared real-time terrain views with its photographs of acceptable landing sites. When a high-quality site match was established, computers controlled eight thrusters to approach, decelerate and land. An antecedent to this technology was highlighted in the 1995 iMax film “Across the Sea of Time.” It dramatizes the arrival of Russian stowaway Thomas Minton, jumping from a ship as it passed Ellis Island. He swam wearing a backpack with his possessions including a Holmes stereoscope and photographs of the New York City home of his great uncle, who arrived in 1904. Minton climbed to numerous rooftops. Like Perseverance, he compared real-time views with his photographs. Eventually he established a high-quality skyline match and found his American family.