The above image is the top down view looking at the rover right before the cables connecting it to it’s flight mechanism were “pyrotechnically cut” and Perseverance dropped to the ground. You can see the gravel below the rover being pushed outward in all directions from the powerful jets keeping the 1 ton rover aloft and level. After Percy’s 7 month journey the rovers EDL (Entry, Descent and Landing) cameras took incredible pictures and video of the short journey down to the surface of Mars. This is the first time we’ve seen this viewpoint as these camera’s were lacking on previous rover missions.
I originally wrote the article with only a link to the picture but after studying it on my own I wanted a copy for myself for ongoing research and educational purpose’s of course (credit: NASA). If you’d like a copy yourself please visit the NASA.gov website pia2464-mastcam-zs_first_360-degree_panorama2.jpg (9238×2451) and search for the preceding file or you can download the full resolution 3.3 megabyte image above or from the included link.
That is the high resolution panoramic image. It’s a 360 degree view so if you could imagine connecting the right edge of the photo to the left edge of the photo and forming an ‘O’. If you stood right in the middle of that ‘O’ that’s the view the above picture represents. If you have an image manipulation program that you can load the picture into with pan and zoom this picture is a marvel to peruse. It’s really nice to zoom in on Percy and marvel at the technology laid bare yet ruggedized to survive the icy and windy hellscape that is is Mars. If you go to the link above, the NASA website has a built in zoom feature that will allow you to zoom into the horizon and check out all the geographic features out towards the horizon. Searching the foreground one can instantly see why people see such parallels with Earth. This vista though shot from across 300 million miles of space could be any old dried up lake bed in the mid western United States. Sure it looks a little ‘dusky’ but I’m not sure I can use such an adjective to describe a world so foreign and alien, but far from unfamiliar. Looking out towards the horizon you can see rim features of the river delta and beyond that the low hills that rise to form the crater wall that is Jezero Crater. So foreign yet so familiar. Following is a link to Space.Com‘s short 7 minute video hosted by Jim Bell (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1AtaSCyqJI) who is the principal investigator of Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z camera which zooms in on some of the features and attempts to explain what some of the near and far off geology/geography might be. Eventually Percy will drive over to the features that the NASA team deems worthy of further exploration so we’ll have real close ups in the near future.
The high resolution image was stitched together from 142 separate images. Percy has a pair of Mastcam-Z imagers which make make it a dual camera system and allow it incredible zoom ability and allow it to make 3D imagery more readily. There is another set of camera’s known as the Navcam on the rover however those will be utilized by the rover drivers to map out the terrain and create route maps that Percy will follow to her various destinations. So lots of imagery equipment (24 total cameras!) for various different purposes, including camera’s on the wheels. Do yourself a favor and set aside a few minutes to zoom into that picture above and take a look at that lakebed. It’s easy to see the erosion of water from eons past when Mars was a wetter world as one looks out towards the horizon. It’s a really cool picture.