NASA’s Perseverance rover has found countless rocks and hills since landing on Mars over a year ago — and this latest photo further highlights how unique and varied they can be. It seems like it was just yesterday that Perseverance safely arrived on the Red Planet. In reality, though, the rover’s been exploring the Martian world for almost 14 months.
And what a busy 14 months it’s been! Following its arrival on Mars in February 2021, Perseverance has collected eight rock samples, explored different regions of the planet, and has generally helped further our understanding of Mars. It’s also accomplished this through hundreds of thousands of photos. Perseverance uploads new pictures of its Martian journies every single day. These can include photos of a sunset on the planet, animal-like rock formations, newly collected samples, and more.
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While some of the photos are blurry or uninteresting, others are downright fascinating. Such is the case with the picture above. NASA acquired this photo on March 31, 2022. After gaining a lot of popularity online, it was quickly voted Perseverance’s latest ‘Image of the Week’ for Week 59 of its mission. And, like so many of its Mars photos, it was captured using Perseverance’s excellent Mastcam-Z camera.
A Perfect Mars Hill That Almost Looks Fake
Hills on Mars are nothing new for Perseverance. So many of its photos have captured hills of varying shapes, sizes, and colors. What’s so interesting about this particular hill is how perfect it looks. It has a gradual slope, a small rounded top, and appears to have a smooth texture all over it. For a planet that’s constantly battered with harsh windstorms and kicked-up sand, it’s remarkable that a hill could form on Mars with such few imperfections.
The rest of the image is just as stunning to look at. In front of the perfect-looking hill are jagged rocks randomly strewn across the Martian surface. In the background are much grander hills and mountains, along with the iconic yellow sky above them. It’s a scene most of us likely won’t ever see with our own eyes, but we can get an incredible view of it right here on Earth, thanks to Perseverance.
Besides adding to its growing photo collection, what else is Perseverance up to? The rover recently embarked on a 3-mile trek to Mars’ river delta. It’s a journey that’ll take Perseverance a few weeks to complete, but once it’s there, it’ll get back to its usual rock-collecting. Scientists believe the river delta may have been one of the biggest hotspots for ancient microbial life on Mars. If life did exist there, scientists hope Perseverance will be the rover that confirms it.