Jezero Crater's Delta Is Getting Closer
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover looks out at the expanse of Jezero Crater's river delta on April 11, 2022, the 406th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. This panorama is made up of 64 individual images from the rover's Mastcam-Z camera system and stitched together after the files were sent back from Mars.
The color bands of the image have been processed to improve visual contrast and accentuate color differences. The sky would not actually look blue to a human explorer on the Red Planet.
The delta formed billions of years ago from sediment that an ancient river carried to the mouth of the lake that once existed in the crater. Aeolian bedforms (sand dunes) can be seen running along the base of the delta. The hills visible on the distant horizon to the far left of the image – about 3.8 miles (6.2 kilometers) away from the rover – are actually part of the rim of Jezero Crater. The peak of the delta remnant to the right center of the image is about 920 feet (260 meters) away and the peak of the hill camera right is about 950 feet (280 meters) away.
The portion of the delta farthest left in this image (visible directly below the crater wall) is the area where "Cape Nukshak" and "Hawksbill Gap" channels can be found. The rover is expected to ascend to the top of the delta via one of these two channels.
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.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.
The Mastcam-Z investigation is led and operated by Arizona State University in Tempe, working in collaboration with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, on the design, fabrication, testing, and operation of the cameras, and in collaboration with the Neils Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen on the design, fabrication, and testing of the calibration targets.
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