Perseverance's Mastcam-Z Images Intriguing Rocks
Click on images for larger versions
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover viewed these rocks using its Mastcam-Z imager on April 27, 2021, the 66th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Stitched together from 21 images, this mosaic is not white balanced; instead, it is displayed in a preliminary calibrated version of a natural-color composite, approximately simulating the colors of the scene as it would appear on Mars.
For scale, the largest piece of rock casting a shadow in the upper right part of the mosaic is about 11 inches (27 centimeters) across, and the entire scene is about 10 feet (3 meters) across. The smallest pebbles and other features that can reliably be resolved at this zoom scale are around 0.04 to 0.08 inches (1-2 millimeters) across.
The scene was also captured in enhanced color (Figure 1) as well as a color anaglyph made for viewing through red-blue 3D glasses (Figure 2).
Arizona State University in Tempe leads the operations of the Mastcam-Z instrument, working in collaboration with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego.
A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.