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Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Perseverance rover landing on Mars. It touched down on Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021 and is searching for signs of past life on Mars.
During its journey, Perseverance is also taking some incredible images of Mars. Below are some of the more memorable photos taken by Perseverance over the past year. The photo gallery atop the page is just a tiny sliver of the more than 215,000 images captured on Mars over the past 12 months. NASA has an Images of the Week gallery that shares some of the public’s favorite images.
Perseverance has a number of onboard cameras to help with a variety of tasks, including visual assistance during the descent and landing, navigating around Mars, analyzing core samples and, of course, taking pictures and videos. You can read NASA’s in-depth coverage of the rover’s cameras here, but let’s take a quick look at some of the cameras that helped capture our favorite images.
Mastcam-Z: this pair of cameras takes color images and video, 3D stereo images, and has a powerful zoom lens. Mastcam-Z consists of two duplicate camera systems mounted on the mast that stands up from the rover deck. The cameras are next to each other and point in the same direction, providing a 3D view similar to what human eyes would see, only better.
SuperCam: SuperCam fires a laser at mineral targets that are beyond the reach of the rover’s robotic arm, and then analyzes the vaporized rock. SuperCam fires laser pulses at pinpoint areas smaller than 1 millimeter from more than 20 feet away. Its camera and spectrometers then examine the rock’s chemistry.
One of our favorite pictures is a selfie that Perseverance took with Ingenuity. To take a selfie, Perseverance’s robotic arm has to twist around to different angles and take multiple pictures that are stitched together.
In the video below, Vandi Verma, Perseverance’s chief engineer for robotic operations, explains the selfie process. The selfies aren’t just for fun, either. Selfies allow NASA engineers to check wear and tear on the rover over time.
Claude Dechow says
I have always enjoyed the pictures from space and the accompanying explanation of the important science they show. They are real teachable moments.