Here are 11 stunning images from the Mars Perseverance rover
- NASA's Perseverance rover is looking for signs of life on Mars.
- Perseverance has already captured more than 215,000 images of the Red Planet, according to NASA.
- Perseverance is accompanied by a small rotorcraft called Ingenuity.
NASA's Mars Perseverance rover was launched on July 30, 2020, in the context of the Mars 2020 mission, which is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, created in 1993 to explore the climate, natural resources, and possibilities of life on the Red Planet.
The Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars on February 18, 2021, along with the mini robotic helicopter Ingenuity (deployed to the surface on April 3, 2021), to conduct science activities in search of signs of past and present life on the Red Planet, while also testing out technologies to allow future crewed missions.
For that, the Perseverance rover is equipped with different instruments:
1. Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE). The prototype of a device that aims at producing oxygen through solid oxide electrolysis of Martian atmospheric gasses, especially carbon dioxide, which is the most abundant component of the atmosphere of the Red Planet (around 95 percent). MOXIE captures, compresses, and heats carbon dioxide (CO2) to split it into oxygen (O) and carbon monoxide (CO). Then it combines the oxygen atoms to form gaseous and breathable oxygen (O2).
2. Two spectrometers. One of them, Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC), is an ultraviolet Raman spectrometer for the study of fine-scale mineralogy and detection of organic compounds through fine-scale imaging and the use of an ultraviolet laser. The other one, Planetary Instrument for X-Ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), is an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer used to discover the fine-scale elemental composition of Martian surface materials.
3. Radar Imager for Mars' subsurface experiment (RIMFAX), a ground-penetrating radar to detect subsurface water ice, salty brines, buried rocks and meteorites, etc.
4. Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) is a set of sensors that collects information about the surface weather and dust particles on the Red Planet.
5. Two imaging systems. The first one, SuperCam, is a remote-sensing instrument that can perform chemical composition analysis of rocks and soils from a distance using a camera, two lasers, and four spectrometers. The second one, Mastcam-Z, is a panoramic and stereoscopic imaging system with two cameras; these are responsible for most of the Mars Perseverance rover images that we have today.
Best Mars Perseverance rover photos
From the time it arrived on Mars, the Perseverance rover took more than 215,000 pictures. Here are some of the most relevant ones.
1. This is the first full-color and high-resolution image captured by the Mars Perseverance rover once it landed on the Red Planet on February 18, 2021.
2. This is a closeup of a rock nicknamed "Rochette," from which the Perseverance rover extracted chalk-size rock core samples on two different occasions.
The picture was taken by the rover right after it drilled a second hole on the rock (the one on the left side). This sample from this hole is known as "Montagnac," and it was collected on September 8. The sample from the hole on the right side is called "Montdenier," and it was drilled on September 1.
3. On September 10, 2021, Perseverance went back to "Rochette" and used its seven-foot-long (two-meter-long) robotic arm to take a selfie with it.
4. This image belongs to a video of rotorcraft Ingenuity's 13th experimental flight on the Red Planet. The footage was captured by the Mastcam-Z instrument of the Perseverance rover on September 4, 2021.
Ingenuity traveled to Mars attached to Perseverance's belly. It landed with Perseverance on Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021, was deployed to the surface on April 3, and took off on April 19, 2021, to a height of 10 feet (3 meters) above the ground to test the first powered, controlled flight on Mars.
5. On April 25, 2021, during its third flight, Ingenuity took a picture of Perseverance at an altitude of 16 feet (5 meters) and approximately 279 feet (85 meters) from the rover.
6. On April 29, 2021, the Mars Perseverance rover captured this picture of a Martian hill called "Santa Cruz" inside the Jezero Crater.
For this, the rover used its dual-camera Mastcam-Z imager. The hill was approximately 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) away from the rover.
Most voted Perseverance rover pictures 2022
NASA uploads Mars Perseverance rover images on a regular basis and allows people to vote for the best ones.
Each week, NASA features one of these Perseverance rover pictures as the "Image of the week" following the public vote. Here are some of the winners of 2022.
1. This picture was taken by the left Mastcam-Z camera of the Mars Perseverance rover on November 24, 2022, and featured as the "Image of the Week" on Week 93 (from November 21 to November 26) of the Perseverance rover mission on Mars.
2. This extreme closeup of the Martian soil was featured as the "Image of the Week" on Week 80 of the Perseverance rover mission (August 21 to August 27, 2022). The image was captured by the SuperCam Remote Micro-Imager, located at the top of the rover's mast.
3. This picture showing a hill of dust on the Red Planet was featured as the "Image of the Week" on Week 59 (March 27 to April 2, 2022) of the Perseverance rover mission. The picture was taken on March 31 by the left Mastcam-Z of the Perseverance rover.
4. This picture was selected as the "Image of the Week" on Week 65 (from May 8 to May 14, 2022). It was taken on May 13, 2022, by the Perseverance rover's right navigation camera (NavCam), placed high on the rover's mast.
Perseverance's navigation cameras are like the "eyes" of the rover. They help it make its own decisions when driving, ensuring a safe path for the rover so that it doesn't always rely on controllers on Earth.
5. This photo of the sandy Martian surface was featured as the "Image of the Week" on Week 74 (from July 10 to July 16, 2022). It was captured by the Mars Perseverance rover on July 12, using one of its six onboard hazard detection cameras, originally designed to help the rover avoid large rocks, sand dunes, and other obstacles, preventing collisions and improving autonomous navigation.
According to NASA, the stringlike material at the center of the picture is likely a piece of shredded Dacron netting that fell off the rover. NASA uses this polyester-like material as a thermal blanket that protects the rover from extreme temperatures during the descent stage.
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