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This Week in Space: More Delights From Mars!

Get another view of the Perseverance Rover landing.

 

This is the first high-resolution, color image to be sent back by the Hazard Cameras (Hazcams) on the underside of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover after its landing on Feb. 18, 2021.

The above photo may LOOK like it’s just some dirt and tire but it’s actually incredibly cool and awesome because it’s FROM MARS! It’s the first photo taken by the Mars Perseverance Rover after landing. Just a week since successfully landing, Perseverance is sending back all sorts of amazing images from Mars as it begins its work on the red planet. But first, let’s talk about that landing.

We covered the Perseverance landing here last week, I know,  but we only got to see the reactions of the folks at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Since then, NASA has shared the actual video taken by Perseverance as it landed on Mars and it’s just the most amazing thing to watch. Take a look:

“This video of Perseverance’s descent is the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science. “It should become mandatory viewing for young women and men who not only want to explore other worlds and build the spacecraft that will take them there, but also want to be part of the diverse teams achieving all the audacious goals in our future.” And seriously, it is inspiring and amazing. Watching a remotely piloted high-tech robot land perfectly on Mars? How cool is that?!

From NASA: “If this were an old Western movie, I’d say the descent stage was our hero riding slowly into the setting Sun, but the heroes are actually back here on Earth,” said Matt Wallace, Mars 2020 Perseverance deputy project manager at JPL. “I’ve been waiting 25 years for the opportunity to see a spacecraft land on Mars. It was worth the wait. Being able to share this with the world is a great moment for our team.”

Perseverance’s mission is about astrobiology, and as NASA puts it: “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).”

How exactly will we be collecting those samples though? Well, we just have to go to Mars to pick those up, which is the plan as part of a joint mission with the European Space Agency (ESA). We’ll also need to stop by the moon to prepare for those missions but in the meantime, Perseverance will continue to study the surface of Mars and sending back more incredible images, like this panoramic view of it’s home in the Jezero crater from its MastCam. For a full, HD look at the image, head over here.

his shows the rim of Jezero Crater as seen in the first 360-degree panorama taken by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/ASU

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/ASU

We can’t leave our houses still, but thanks to these videos and image (and the sounds too!) we can experience the surface of another planet, and that’s, shall we say, out of this world.

(via NASA, image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Here are some other space-tastic treats for this week.

See you next week, space cadets!

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.