After a journey lasting seven months, the Perseverance rover touched down on the floor of Mars final week. And in its first few days, it’s already despatched us Earthlings some detailed photographs of the pink world.
On Monday, NASA launched a video displaying Perserverance’s first glimpses of the Martian panorama because it descended to the western fringe of a crater referred to as Jezero, named after a city in Bosnia-Herzegovina. NASA and JPL selected Jezero as a result of one other probe, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, appeared on the crater and located traces of clay—a fabric that wants water with a view to kind. Subsequently, scientists imagine that some 3.5 billion years in the past, Jezero was the mattress of a primordial lake. If life ever shaped on Mars, this is able to be an amazing place for it to have thrived.
NASA additionally launched Perseverance’s first full-color, high-definition picture of its new residence. You’ll be able to see some hills peeking from the backdrop: they’re really a 3-billion-year-old shoreline. In actual fact, scientists suppose that these specific slopes had been as soon as a delta, the place a river met the lake that was Jezero Crater and deposited layers of sediment onto each the shore and the lakebed. Perseverance, if it may well discover a method up, might discover that delta. And for those who look from above, you’ll be able to nonetheless see the ghost of that river to Jezero’s west, a channel referred to as Neretva Valles.
This hi-def picture was taken with one in all Perseverance’s visible-light Hazard Avoidance Cameras, or Hazcams, which sit on the rover’s back and front and assist the rover navigate itself. The Hazcams additionally assist controllers again on Earth see what’s across the rover, just like the rear-view digital camera in your automobile. The video, in the meantime, was shot utilizing a number of different high-definition visible-light cameras, together with one hooked up to the “skycrane” that helped decrease Perseverance to the floor.
You may discover that the panorama is strewn with little rocks. Scientists aren’t positive how these rocks shaped; they might have been deposited there by the river, or they may have been birthed from now-dead volcanoes, whose ash may need been carried throughout the pink planet by the Martian winds. That’s one thing Perseverance might uncover. And don’t fear about Perseverance getting a flat tire—these rocks are not any impediment for the wheels of a rover that’s the scale of a giant automobile.
Perseverance’s mission, if all goes based on plan, will lengthy outlast the rover itself. A future mission is primed to gather a few of the rover’s rock and soil samples from Jezero later within the 2020s, earlier than bringing them again to Earth in order that scientists can seek for maybe the holiest of Martian holies: traces of extraterrestrial life.