First Color Images from (and of) NASA’s Perseverance Rover on Mars

It’s Sol 1 of the Mars 2020 mission on Mars and the very first color pictures are already here! Revealed today, February 19, during a press conference at JPL these images show sneak peeks of the immediate region around Perseverance’s landing site in Jezero Crater, captured by the rover’s hazard avoidance cameras—minus the dirty dust covers—and a never-before-seen view of the rover from above as it was being lowered via tethers onto Mars by its “jetpack” sky crane! That one really stole the show!

This high-resolution still image is part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. A camera aboard the descent stage captured this shot. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The image, showing Perseverance suspended by tether cables about two meters above the ground, is part of a high-definition video that was captured during the Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) sequence on February 18, 2021. That is expected to be released on Monday, Feb. 22.

The images below show the Martian surface immediately around the rover.

This is the first high-resolution color image to be sent back by the Hazard Cameras on the underside of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover after its landing on Feb. 18, 2021. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
This high-resolution image shows one of the six wheels aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, which landed on Feb. 18, 2021. The image was taken by one of Perseverance’s color Hazard Cameras (Hazcams). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

None of these images (or the cameras they were captured with) have yet been adjusted or calibrated for color.

Perseverance landed at 3:44 p.m. EST / 20:44 UTC on February 18, 2021 at the western edge of a 28-mile-wide crater on Mars named Jezero. Shortly after landing its location was pinpointed by NASA mission engineers—a process that used to take up to a few days to accomplish but because of the rover’s automated terrain detection and hazard avoidance abilities, its precise location data was returned to Earth very shortly after touchdown.

Perseverance landed within the white circle seen above, well within its 4.8-mile-wide target ellipse.
A closer look at Perseverance’s landing location, marked with a X on an image captured in May 2016 by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

In addition to pictures from the rover and its sky crane, NASA also shared one captured by the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft that has been in orbit around Mars since March 2006. It shows the landing region inside Jezero Crater captured just as Perseverance, still inside its back shell, was descending through the atmosphere with its enormous 70-foot-wide supersonic parachute!

HiRISE image of Perseverance descending to Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
HiRISE image of Perseverance descending to Mars on Feb. 18, 2021 (crop). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

When that image was captured, not only was Perseverance in motion but MRO was 435 miles away and traveling 6,750 mph. Amazing.

The next steps for the rover team will be to establish high-gain antenna communication with Earth, make sure all of the instruments are working properly, raise the rover’s mast “head” and eventually capture some panoramic views of its surroundings. As most of the cameras aboard Perseverance are color (and Mastcam-Z has telephoto capabilities) these should be some truly fantastic views!

Learn more about and follow along with NASA’s Mars 2020 mission here, and see the newest images from the rover here.

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