The otherworldly photos from Mars’ newest robotic resident keep rolling in.
NASA’s Perseverance rover, which touched down inside the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, captured some nice shots of its own shadow over the weekend with its hazard-avoidance cameras.
Space UpClose’s Ken Kremer stitched two of those pictures into a striking mosaic that shows the outline of the rover and the rubbly terrain it has just begun to explore.
Perseverance is the centerpiece of the $2.7 billion Mars 2020 mission, which will search for signs of ancient life on Jezero’s floor and collect and cache dozens of samples for future return to Earth. The car-sized rover is getting up to speed nicely; instrument checkouts are going well, and the robot has conducted its first few drives on the Red Planet’s surface.
Perseverance has covered about 230 feet (70 meters) on Mars so far, mission team members said via Twitter Monday evening (March 8). Its latest drive served to scout out a potential flight zone for Ingenuity, the 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) helicopter that traveled to the Red Planet on Perseverance’s belly.
Getting Ingenuity aloft is the first big order of business for the Mars 2020 mission. After the little chopper finishes its technology-demonstrating flights, Perseverance will begin its science and sample-collecting work in earnest, rover team members have said.
The Mars 2020 team makes all of Perseverance’s photos publicly available here. As of Monday evening, there were 8,802 images to gawk at, including high-resolution 360-degree panoramas of the area near the landing site, which was recently named after renowned sci-fi author Octavia Butler, and stunning shots of the rover’s dramatic sky-crane touchdown.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.