The first few days of work of the new Perseverance rover have now passed and NASA has already shared a few incredible images from the surface. We saw a couple of black and white shots minutes after landing but now, the mission team has also published its first color photos from Mars, as well as a unique image showing the descent of the rover by parachute.
The image you see above was taken by the US Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It is only for the second time in human history that an orbital spacecraft has been able to visually trace the landing of a different mission. Previously, only the descent of the Curiosity in 2012 was filmed. The attempt to shoot the InSight parachute in 2018 was not crowned with the desired success.
The second image I am personally too fascinated by is the one above, taken by Perseverance itself. This is a photograph depicting the rover descending to the Martian surface, made by a camera attached to the retro rocket platform.
At the time of the landing when we received the first two images, Perseverance still had the transparent covers of the cameras on. Logically, the photos looked of poor quality due to the layer of dust on the cameras.
Less than 24 hours later, however, the cameras were freed from their covers and the Perseverance team received the first color photos. While the image still does not have the high resolution we were maybe hoping for and the colors are not calibrated, it is incredible nonetheless.
The last image we have at this point is of one of the wheels of Perseverance on the ground of Mars. Once again the colors are not calibrated but at least it also shows some color and the resolution is high.
Less than three full days have passed since the landing of Perseverance and we already have 5 incredible images. Those that have been following the work of Curiosity in the past years know what we can expect from Perseverance – apart from life-changing discoveries we should see hundreds, if not thousands of mesmerizing images from Mars.
If you are familiar with Curiosity, however, you know how similar Perseverance is but you will likely notice the small changes and one of them is visible in the last image above.
The newly arrived Perseverance looks a lot like Curiosity’s twin brother. The main difference is that the new rover has a larger robotic arm, which is related to the goal of collecting rocks for further study in ground-based laboratories. The “wrist” of the robotic arm is also more massive and has a modern drilling machine, two scientific instruments, and a camera for color photography.
Perseverance was built with improved and reinforced wheels. In the past, experts found unwanted structural damage at Curiosity during the mission. So that there are no problems now, the new wheels are narrower, but with a larger diameter and a thicker aluminum coating.
Last but not least, the instruments are radically different, as Perseverance is the first mission since 1976 to search for life on Mars. All details, achievements, and images from the mission can be found on the official directory of the mission here.
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• NASA. (2021, February 18). Mars 2020 Perseverance rover.
• NASA. (n.d.). Mars 2020 Mission Contributions to NASA’s Mars Exploration Program Science Goal.
• NASA. (n.d.). Image gallery: Perseverance rover.
• O’Callaghan, J. (2021, February 18). The first 100 days on Mars: How nasa’s Perseverance rover will begin its mission.
• Strickland, A. (2021, February 19). Incredible new images shared by Perseverance rover after Mars landing.
• The Telegraph. (2021, February 21). New Mars pictures: Nasa’s PERSEVERANCE SENDS spectacular first colour photos.