On Wednesday, NASA published Perseverance rover’s first high-definition panorama of its landing site, giving the public their first proper look at the Martian surface that’ll be explored by the new rover. The panorama shows Mars’ Jezero Crater as perceived by Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z instrument, which can be rotated to capture a full 360-degrees.
This isn’t the first panorama we’ve seen from Perseverance — we almost immediately got one after the rover landed, but that was assembled using lower-resolution images captured by the navigation cameras. This new panorama is different because it was captured using the Mastcam-Z instrument.
As a result, the images were higher resolution, providing a much more detailed panorama with Perseverance taking center stage. The Mastcam-Z is, as its name suggests, attached to the mast, which is able to rotate 360-degrees. The navigation cameras had similarly captured a 360 panorama.
NASA explains that the Mastcam-Z instrument packs two cameras, both of which can be zoomed in and used to capture panoramic color. As well, this dual-camera system also supports capturing 3D images and recording high-definition videos.
NASA has more plans for this camera system than just capturing panoramas. The space agency says that the zoom and focus capabilities mean Perseverance will be able to capture detailed examinations of objects that are close in addition to more distant features.
Researchers back on Earth will be able to use close-up images to better determine where Perseverance should spend its time collecting samples, among other things. Head over to NASA’s website to view the full-size HD Mars panorama.