One of the most important achievements in space exploration in the past few years has been the landing of the persistent rover on Mars. The perseverance had landed on the red planet a few days ago after an extremely horrific voyage through the thin atmosphere of Mars. One of the important pieces of the puzzle for getting tenacious land safely was the descent stage.
The rocket landing stage is the rocket-powered portion that is deployed after the parachute. The probe was slowly lowered from the landing stage via cables to the surface of Mars. Without the descending stage, persistence would have affected the surface severely and it would likely have suffered catastrophic damage. The landing stage was not designed to land safely, and as soon as the rover deployed to the planet’s surface, it flew away and sacrificed itself, ending its mission.
NASA shared an image showing the plume of smoke from the intentional surface impact of the Mars landing stage. Photo taken by one of Hazcams on the Perseverance Rover. A scientist on the team shared the photo, saying that an intentional roof impact protects the safety of the rover and the landing site.
This is not the first time that NASA has intentionally collided with a landing on Mars at a safe distance from one of its rovers. The sky-rocket-powered lift that delivered the Curiosity spacecraft to Mars on August 5, 2012, also flew a long way and crashed onto the surface.
NASA has shared a photo of the crash site, which can be seen above, in artificial color. While most of the crash site is a single large crater, some damage from the collision indicates that some debris continued from the collision for some distance. Perhaps one day we will see a similar picture of the fallout from the collapse of the persistence phase.