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Perseverance rover captures view of Mars' Belva Crater

Perseverance rover captures view of Mars' Belva Crater
The 152 images that make up this mosaic of Belva Crater were taken by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover on April 22, 2023, the 772nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Belva is a 0.6-mile-wide (0.9-kilometer wide) impact crater within the much larger Jezero Crater. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

The Mastcam-Z instrument aboard NASA's Perseverance Mars rover recently collected 152 images while looking deep into Belva Crater, a large impact crater within the far larger Jezero Crater. Stitched into a dramatic mosaic, the results are not only eye-catching, but also provide the rover's science team some deep insights into the interior of Jezero.

"Mars rover missions usually end up exploring bedrock in small, flat exposures in the immediate workspace of the rover," said Katie Stack Morgan, deputy project scientist of Perseverance at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. "That's why our science team was so keen to image and study Belva. Impact craters can offer grand views and vertical cuts that provide important clues to the origin of these rocks with a perspective and at a scale that we don't usually experience."

On Earth, geology professors often take their students to visit highway "roadcuts" –places where construction crews have sliced vertically into the rock to make way for roads—that allow them to view and other not visible at the surface. On Mars, like Belva can provide a type of natural roadcut.

Signs of past water

Perseverance took the images of the basin on April 22 (the 772nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission) while parked just west of Belva Crater's rim on a light-toned rocky outcrop the mission's science team calls "Echo Creek." Created by a meteorite impact eons ago, the approximately 0.6-mile-wide (0.9-kilometer-wide) crater reveals multiple locations of exposed bedrock as well as a region where angle steeply downward.

Perseverance rover captures view of Mars' Belva Crater
This anaglyph of Perseverance’s mosaic of Belva Crater can best be viewed with red-blue 3D glasses. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

These "dipping beds" could indicate the presence of a large Martian sandbar, made of sediment, that billions of years ago was deposited by a river channel flowing into the lake that Jezero Crater once held.

The science team suspects the large boulders in the foreground are either chunks of bedrock exposed by the meteorite impact or that they may have been transported into the crater by the river system. The scientists will search for answers by continuing to compare features found in bedrock near the rover to the larger-scale rock layers visible in the distant crater walls.

To help with those efforts, the mission also created an anaglyph, or 3D version, of the mosaic. "An anaglyph can help us visualize the geologic relationships between the wall outcrops," said Stack. "But it also provides an opportunity to simply enjoy an awesome view. When I look at this mosaic through red-blue 3D glasses, I'm transported to the western rim of Belva, and I wonder what future astronauts would be thinking if they were to stand where Perseverance once stood when it took this shot."

Provided by NASA

Citation: Perseverance rover captures view of Mars' Belva Crater (2023, May 18) retrieved 21 April 2024 from
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