A 150-million-mile selfie stick: How NASA's Perseverance rover overcame 'time and space' to capture first Mars panorama

  • In Science
  • 2021-02-26 01:19:22Z

NASA's Perseverance rover has just given us a never-before-seen look at the Mars surface.

The new Martian inhabitant captured the mission's first panorama photo, of Jezero Crater, which once held an ancient river delta. The panorama is a composite of 142 individual images taken by Perseverance's Mastcam-Z camera system on Feb. 19 and tweeted by the rover's account.

It's a panorama two years and over 5,000 command parameters in the making, said Elsa Jensen, instrument operations manager of Malin Space Science Systems, which sends commands to Mastcam-Z.

"You know, it's funny, because when you take a panorama like this on Mars, it's very technical. But it's in some ways the same as when you have your smartphone," she said during a NASA Q&A session on Thursday. In a photo, you have to get the angle and focus correct, she explained.

'Goosebumps every time':NASA releases new video of Perseverance rover landing on Mars

"We're millions of miles away, though. Our selfie stick, if you will, is 150 million miles long," she said.

Jensen explained that such distance comes with some wait time. When her team presses the shutter button, imputing the command to take a picture, it takes a day for the signal to get to Mars.

"And it takes another day before we get the images back. So we have that challenge of time and space," she said.

'Perseverance will get you anywhere': After 300-million-mile journey, NASA's Mars rover shares Twitter updates - sort of

After touching down last week on the surface of the Red Planet, Perseverance has taken photos, video footage and even captured sound using its 25 cameras. It has shared its findings with the public via its Twitter account, which has quickly amassed 2.3 million followers.

"Even though many of us kind of knew, intellectually, what to expect, emotionally it was like blown out of the water," with the content, Jim Bell, professor at Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration, said during the Q&A session.

"It was incredible, and a lot of us on the Mastcam-Z team are having the same experience with the pictures that were taken with these Zoom cameras," he added.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NASA Perseverance rover shares first Mars panorama from Jezero Crater


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