Not so long ago, mankind had no notion what life was like on Mars’ surface. Skywatchers have been aware of the tiny orange dot’s motion across the night sky for at least millennia. The little orange dot moves in enormous loops that resemble unreadable cursive writing.
But now that NASA’s Perseverance rover has sensors on board, we have photographs of the Martian topography to understand how an intrepid hiker may see it. And it’s lovely.
Paul Byrne, an associate professor of planetary geology at North Carolina State University, has discovered some especially stunning photographs in the collection of unprocessed rover images that NASA makes public. The agency has provided roughly 300,000 images from the mission, including this one.
The images of the Martian landscape taken by Perseverance are incredible.
Since it touched down on Mars in February of last year, Perseverance, a robot about the size of a car, has been exploring the planet’s surface. The primary task of the rover is to look for evidence of prehistoric microbial life, which it accomplishes with the aid of a drill that it uses to take samples of rock and dirt. In the future, NASA intends to send another mission to gather those samples.
The rover also gathers a ton of digital data, which it sends back to researchers on Earth. Spectrometers, a radar that can penetrate the planet’s rocky surface, a weather station, and a camera named Mastcam-Z are just a few of the devices that provide this data. Similar to the cameras aboard the Mars Exploration Rover, which started sending pictures of the surrounding area almost 20 years ago, this equipment has two cameras installed side by side. The agency claims that its color quality is “similar to that of consumer digital cameras.”
The Jezero Crater contains an abundance of sedimentary rock.
Perseverance has spent the majority of its time on Mars—more than 500 Martian days, or “sols”—exploring a portion of the well-known Jezero Crater. The low-lying plain may have originally been a river delta covered in fresh water, according to scientists.
“River channels spilled over the crater wall and formed a lake more than 3.5 billion years ago. The crater lake contains proof that the surrounding area’s clay minerals were transported there by water “The agency claims. It’s probable that the area originally hosted microorganisms. If that is the case, NASA states that “signatures of their remains might be identified in lakebed or coastal sediments.”
Layers of sedimentary rock can be seen from Perserverence’s vantage point in the Jezero crater in the amazing photo Byrne provided. The picture offers more than simply a breathtaking view of the Martian countryside. Geologists can use it to make fairly precise inferences by gauging the depth of the layers in the pictures and examining the rock’s physical characteristics.