These photos on Mars are the best we’ve ever seen

In this handout image provided by NASA, the first high-resolution, color image to be sent back by the Hazard Cameras (Hazcams) on the underside of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover after its landing in the area known as Jezero crater on Feb. 18, 2021 on the planet Mars. 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, paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.
In this handout image provided by NASA, the first high-resolution, color image to be sent back by the Hazard Cameras (Hazcams) on the underside of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover after its landing in the area known as Jezero crater on Feb. 18, 2021 on the planet Mars. 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, paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith. (2021 NASA)

For anyone who may have been consumed with weather, COVID-19 or other major news lately (there’s been a lot going on), a pretty spectacular thing happened this past week: A rover named Perseverance landed on Mars to do some exploring.

The landing is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort to explore the Red Planet. There are many things NASA is hoping to cover while up there.

It will seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock, broken rock and soil for possible return to Earth.

According to NASA, the mission will also gather knowledge and demonstrate technologies that address what challenges may be presented for future human expeditions to Mars.

Perseverance will test a method for producing oxygen in the atmosphere, identify other resources, such as subsurface water, improving landing techniques, and characterizing weather, dust and other potential environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts living and working on Mars.

Whew, that’s a big job. But the first job it executed was delivering some amazing images.

The rover captured its first 360-degree photo on Feb. 20, two days after landing on Mars, and the vividness of it is quite stunning. You can see that, along with some other photos the rover has captured, below.

This image, provided by NASA, is part of a video taken by several cameras aboard the descent stage as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down in the area known as Jezero crater on Feb. 18, 2021 on the planet Mars. 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, paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith. (2021 NASA)

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