Less than a week into its Mars mission, the Perseverance rover has already sent back a host of postcard-worthy images.
NASA scientists recently stitched together 142 photos from the rover’s cameras to create a high-definition, 360-degree panorama of Mars’ surface (below). The image, released Wednesday shows all sides of the Jezero Crater, a 28-mile-wide ancient Martian lake bed.
The panorama was made possible by the rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument, a pair of cameras on its mast, which can rotate in a complete circle. The cameras have powerful zoom capabilities to enable scientists to inspect tiny details.
Mastcam-Z can also take high-definition videos, as well as 3D images. NASA will use these mast cameras to determine which rocks are worth sampling and which should be collected and returned to Earth in the future.
“We’re nestled right in a sweet spot, where you can see different features similar in many ways to features found by Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity at their landing sites,” Jim Bell, one of the leaders of the Mastcam-Z instrument team, said in a press release. (Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity are three of NASA’s prior Mars rovers.)
NASA also turned the panorama image into a video that you can drag left and right to see the view from Perseverance’s perspective.
Perseverance hasn’t started roaming Mars yet, but NASA has already published more than 4,700 images from the rover, with many more to come.
“It’s been a firehose of data,” Justin Maki, a Perseverance imaging scientist and the chief of the instrument-operations team, said at a press conference Monday.
The new photos reveal the sand dunes, rocks, and distant 200-foot-tall cliffs of the Jezero Crater. It’s the most hazardous terrain any Mars landing has targeted.
“I review images for Mars, like, every day. That’s what I do. And when I saw these images come down, I have to say, I was truly amazed,” Maki said. “I know it’s been a tough year for everybody, and we’re hoping that maybe these images will help brighten people’s day.”