Photo reveals first image of Martian surface shot by NASA Perseverance Rover

Perseverance just landed on the Red Planet.

NASA Mars Perseverance photo

There's a new inhabitant on the Red Planet.

On Thursday Perseverance's journey to Mars finally came to an end. The rover launched on July 30 and embarked on a 40 million-mile journey through space. Now it's officially on the fourth planet from the Sun and it has the photo to prove it.


During its descent, Perseverance lunged through the Martian atmosphere at more than 120,000 miles per hour. It has not been traveling alone: The rover is also carrying the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter.

Landing on Mars was far from a sure thing. For most of Thursday's landing, what viewers could watch was not Perseverance itself, but the team operating it from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. A live stream from mission control meant a live stream of watching a nervous but hopeful team of experts — especially when Perseverance entered its so-called "seven minutes of terror."

Mission control, waiting to see if Perseverance stuck the landing.


At 3:55 p.m. Eastern, NASA heard officially: Perseverance landed on Mars with no complications.

A few minutes after some much-deserved celebration, clapping, and fist-bumping, more good news arrived. Perseverance was ready to send back its first image of Mars.

What Mars' surface looks like

Hello, Perseverance.


The shadow you see here is Perseverance. It's approximately the size of an SUV. It's 10 feet long, 9 feet wide, and 7 feet tall.

This view is from one of Perseverance's Hazard Detection Cameras and is partially obscured by dust. Overall, there are six of these so-called "HazCams" on the rover: four in the front and two in the rear. These cameras are designed to help Perseverance detect various dangers, whether those are sand dunes, rocks, or trenches.

Beyond the Hazard Detection Cameras, Perseverance will use Navigation Cameras and what's called a CacheCam to steer itself on the Red planet. The CacheCam will take pictures of sampled materials and allow scientists back on Earth to watch the process.

This NASA diagram shows all 23 cameras on the SUV-sized rover that safely landed on Mars on Thursday.


Perseverance sent back image number two a few minutes later.

What Mars looks like from Perseverance's view.


These first images are low-resolution "thumbnails." Higher-resolution images will come later, though it's not announced when.

What comes next — Now the rover will begin its 687-day mission on Mars, the equivalent of one Martian year.

The rover is tasked with no small job: It's on the hunt for signs of ancient microbial life.

It's possible those signs are hiding in Jezero Crater, Perseverance's the landing site. Today it is a 28-mile wide, 1,600 food crater slightly north of the Martian equator.

But sometime between 3.5 and 3.8 billion years ago, Jezero Crater was a lake. It's possible this lake once supported life — although what this life was is unknown. Its possible life on Mars was similar to the microbial life found in the claybeds of the Mississippi River. It's possible it never existed at all.

Time will tell. And we've got a rover detective on the hunt.

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