Following the release of some stunning video footage showing NASA’s Perseverance rover landing on Mars last week, the space agency has just posted the rover’s first panoramic view of the Martian surface.
Comprising six separate photos stitched together to make an explorable panorama, the imagery (top) was captured by Perseverance’s color Navigation Cameras — or Navcams — located on the rover’s remote sensing mast.
The view shows Jezero Crater, where NASA’s car-sized explorer landed on Thursday, 18 February, at the end of a six-and-a-half-month journey from Earth. You can also see parts of the rover itself.
The landing was particularly tricky for a host of reasons, not least because Perseverance was coming down in an area with boulders and uneven terrain. But the location was carefully chosen as scientists believe the area inside the crater was once filled with water and therefore offers the best chance of finding evidence of ancient life.
“A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life,” NASA says in notes accompanying the video, adding, “The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the red planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.”
Perseverance is kitted out with a total of 19 cameras — the most of any of the five Mars rovers that NASA has landed on the red planet up to now. Its Curiosity rover, which landed on the Martian surface in 2012, has already sent back plenty of impressive imagery, but with Perseverance carrying the latest camera technology, we can expect to see even more amazing pictures and videos over the course of NASA’s two-year mission.
Perseverance is currently undergoing an extensive check of its plethora of systems and instruments, and once everything is confirmed to be in proper working order it will set about exploring its new home.
We can also look forward to the appearance of Ingenuity, a small helicopter-like machine that’s set to become the first aircraft to fly on another planet. It’s currently attached to the rover’s underbelly but is expected to take flight in the coming months.
And if you haven’t already seen the incredible footage of the rover coming in to land last week, be sure to take a look.
“This video of Perseverance’s descent is the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit,” NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen said following the video’s release on Monday.
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