NASA has released an impressive video showing the Martian landscape as seen from its Perseverance rover.
The video (below) is based on a panoramic image shared by the space agency several days ago. However, in this latest release, Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley offers a fresh perspective by describing key areas of interest.
Perseverance, which arrived on Mars in February 2021, gathered the imagery using its Mastcam-Z instrument, one of many cameras that the rover is using during its mission. The panorama that you see in the video comprises 14 separate images.
NASA landed Perseverance inside Jezero Crater, an area that scientists believe was once filled with water and which therefore offers the best chance of finding signs of ancient life, one of the mission’s key goals.
The imagery, which has been enhanced to alter Mars’ natural reddish color so scientists can more easily interpret the landscape, shows the rim of Jezero Crater, which is more than half-a-mile high and some six miles away from where the shot was taken.
We also see a canyon carved by a river more than three billion years ago when Mars’ climate was significantly different to how it is now. We also see the mud and sand that was deposited on the crater floor when the river met Jezero’s lake.
Be sure to look out for the so-called “bacon strip,” too, as well as the large boulders spotted in the far distance.
Farley says the team is planning to explore the delta where the boulders are located, but the sand dunes between Perseverance and the destination mean the rover will have to take the long route to avoid getting stuck.
The scientist says images like this one “help us learn more about the ancient Martian environment and provide new clues to where to seek evidence of ancient microbial life,” adding: “We’re just getting started on our long journey through the crater.”
Besides searching for signs of ancient life, the Perseverance rover mission is also working to characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, gather data for the first crewed mission to Mars, and be the first mission to collect and cache samples of Martian rock for return to Earth where scientists can use more advanced analysis equipment.