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NASA’s Mars Rover ‘Perseverance’ Sends Back Its First Two Images


Yesterday, NASA’s latest Mars Rover Perseverance safely touched down on the Red Planet and sent back its first images of the surface. The view is from one of the rover’s hazard avoidance cameras and is partially obscured by a dust cover.

After sending back that first image, Perseverance sent a second which is a look behind the rover.

As you might expect, the size of these images is extremely small given the time it takes to send signals back to Earth and those limitations. Eventually, other larger, higher-quality images will likely be sent back. For now, these images may appear pixelated because they have been expanded from the small 320×240 pixel PNG file and were taken with the rover’s hazard avoidance cameras, which are likely low-resolution and designed to keep the rover safe.

Perseverance’s key objective for its mission on Mars is to search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will attempt to characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration on Mars, and be the first mission where samples of the surface will be collected and be sent back to Earth for analysis.

Before any of that, however, Perseverance will capture images of its surroundings and send them back to NASA’s command center as part of a checkup period to assure it is fully operational. Perseverance will be assisted by a helicopter drone, a first for Mars exploration, named Ingenuity.

In a process that will take 10 days, the Perseverance will drop Ingenuity on the surface, roll away from it and the helicopter will be tested in its capacity for survival alone in the freezing nights. The helicopter can keep itself warm and charge itself using solar panels and will prepare for its first flight which is slated to last 20 seconds.

Ken Farley, a project scientist for Mars 2020, explained the importance of Perseverance’s mission.

“Perseverance’s sophisticated science instruments will not only help in the hunt for fossilized microbial life, but also expand our knowledge of Martian geology and its past, present, and future,” he said.

Perseverance has already been very active on Twitter, which is a great way to keep track of the mission and see more images and simulations of what the drone along with Ingenuity will be doing during its time exploring Mars.

You can also see where on Mars the Rover is with NASA’s perseverance Rover Landing Site Map.

Any images that Perseverance captures will be uploaded to the NASA Mars website here. The mission team is expecting new images to arrive sometime today.

(via CNN)

Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech