NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is sending back stunning images as it explores an ancient river delta in Jezero crater for signs of life
15 June 2022
This alien landscape looks like a film set, but these are real pictures taken by NASA’s Perseverance rover.
Since landing on Mars in February 2021, Perseverance has been scouring the Martian landscape for signs of microbial life by taking samples, measurements and photographs. The rover has been exploring Jezero crater, a 28-mile-wide depression created by an impact. The site once hosted an ancient river.
The strange scene pictured above, taken by Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z camera on 12 June, was probably formed over millions of years of geological activity related to that river, in a build-up of rocks and sediment called a delta. This area is a likely candidate for evidence of ancient life, if it existed.
It is a golden age for high-fidelity photos of Mars: in addition to Perseverance, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter is documenting the landscape of the Jezero region from above, while China’s Zhurong rover is exploring the Utopia Planitia plain to the east.
But these photos are a sideshow to Perseverance’s main mission – to document the Martian landscape and see whether it could have hosted life. It has already made some important scientific discoveries, such as uncovering the history of Jezero’s rocks and water using its ground-penetrating radar and measuring the speed of sound in the Martian atmosphere.
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