NASA Shares Photo of More Than 2 Billion Pixels of Mars

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Since landing on Mars early last year, NASA’s Perseverance rover has taken some amazing pictures, but none as detailed as this one.

Its most recent accomplishment is getting the most detailed picture ever taken from the surface of Mars. This picture is a beautiful mosaic made up of more than a thousand separate pictures. The amazing picture was taken in an old delta in Jezero Crater, where the Perseverance is looking for signs of life as part of its second science campaign. About 3.5 billion years ago, a river ran into Lake Jezero and dumped mud and sand on the floor of the crater, making this delta.

Scientists think that a river once flowed into a lake in Mars’s Jezero Crater and left a fan-shaped pattern of rocks and sediment there billions of years ago. This area is called the delta. Deltas are thought to be the best places on Mars to look for signs of microbial life from the past. Since the rover landed in the crater in February 2021, the mission’s main goal has been to get to the Jezero Delta.

Perseverance got this new view with its Mastcam-Z camera system. In the middle of July, it took 1,118 separate pictures that were put together to make a 2.5 billion-pixel mosaic with more color.

On the far left side of the picture, you can see where the rover rolled into the crater. In front of it is a 32-foot (10 m) rocky cliff. These rocks have been there for billions of years, and the wind has worn away at them slowly, giving them their odd shapes.

These sedimentary rocks are thought to be some of the smoothest in the delta, so they are good places to look for life. Perseverance is drilling into these rocks to study their chemistry and mineralogy. This is part of his scientific work in the area. Scientists are very interested in the sedimentary rocks that can be seen in the panorama. The Perseverance rover has worn away the tops of a few rocks in this area and found out what they are made of. It has also collected rock samples that the Mars Sample Return campaign could bring back to Earth in the future. This would allow for detailed lab studies as part of the search for signs of ancient life.

The video below gives a guided tour of the new landscape, and the source link has a full-resolution version.

One of the most important goals of the Perseverance mission to Mars is to study astrobiology and look for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will study the planet’s geology and climate in the past, paving the way for humans to explore the Red Planet. It will also be the first mission to collect and store rocks and regolith from Mars (broken rock and dust).

In the future, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) would work together to send spacecraft to Mars to pick up these sealed samples from the surface and bring them back to Earth for a more in-depth look.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon-to-Mars exploration plan, which also includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of Mars.

The Perseverance rover was built and is run by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. This lab is run for NASA by Caltech. The Mastcam-Z instrument is run by Arizona State University. They work with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego to design, build, test, and run the cameras. They also work with the University’s Neils Bohr Institute in Copenhagen to design, build, and test the calibration targets.

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