NASA Rover Delivers Most Detailed View of Mars Surface Ever – CNET

This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

NASA’s new Perseverance rover Mars panorama is a beast. An absolute unit. Totally bonkers. It’s 2.5 billion pixels of rocks, sand, sky and rover parts. On Wednesday, the space agency delivered the most detailed view of the Martian surface ever captured. It’s epic.

NASA also released a video tour of the image. Perseverance science operations team member Rachel Kronyak walks us through the sights at an ancient river delta region in the Jezero Crater. The tour highlights sedimentary rocks, hills, cliffs, rover wheel tracks and sample collection sites.  

The image’s pixel count eclipses a previous 1.8 billion-pixel panorama of the Gale Crater from the Curiosity rover in 2020. The new view consists of 1,118 individual images snapped by the rover’s Mastcam-Z, a camera system mounted on the vehicle’s “head.” The images were captured between June 12 and 20. 

NASA’s color-processed, full resolution version of image weighs in at 3.85GB, but that means space fans can pore over every painstaking detail. The video tour comes before the agency hosts a Thursday briefing covering highlights from Perseverance’s first year and a half on Mars. 

The delta is an important place for exploration thanks to its history of water. NASA hopes Perseverance will help answer the question of whether Mars once hosted microbial life. The rover is collecting samples at the delta that NASA intends to bring back to Earth for study. This gobsmacking panorama is quite the souvenir postcard from Percy’s Martian adventure.