The Mastcam-Z imager on NASA’s Perseverance rover captured a series of images on July 6 that were stitched together to show a field of boulders deposited in Jezero Crater by a fast-moving ancient river.

July 19, 2023

This composite image captured by NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover shows boulders that decorate the top of the Jezero Crater fan deposit. Rover tracks across the middle of the image give a sense of scale. These boulders were transported by water that was either deeper or flowed faster than the ancient waterway that deposited the smaller pebbles that also populate the area. Because these boulders are sitting on top of the pebbles, scientists believe they arrived later, possibly much later.

Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z camera system took the series of images that make up this composite on July 6, 2023, the 845th day, or sol, of the rover’s mission to Mars.

Arizona State University leads the operations of the Mastcam-Z instrument, working in collaboration with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, on the design, fabrication, testing, and operation of the cameras, and in collaboration with the Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen on the design, fabrication, and testing of the calibration targets.

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed for the agency by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

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