This story is part ofour series exploring the red planet.
NASA’s Perseverance rover has good reason to be proud. It ends by itselfby depositing a collection of tubes filled with rocks on the Martian soil. To mark the occasion, the rover took a selfie with one of its sample tubes.
The rover’s selfie is made up of multiple images stitched together. The rover took the pictures on January 22. NASA will likely release an official version of the selfie soon, but image processors have already transformed the rover’s raw images into full selfies.
Amateur astronomer Stuart Atkinson shared an edited selfie on Monday, showing the rover looking down on the Martian surface.
Engineer Kevin Gill posted his own version in Tuesday’s selfie with Percy’s “head” facing the camera.
Construction of the depotand it took weeks. The depot is shaped according to a certain pattern and includes 10 separate pipes which . Most of the tubes contain small chalk-sized samples of Martian rocks collected in Jezero Crater.
The depot is a backup plan for the futuremission, a complex, multi-stage endeavor that will aim to retrieve Percy’s samples and return them to Earth in 2030 for closer study. NASA hopes the rover will be in good shape when the MSR arrives so it can deliver the samples on its own. If not, the mission will send a pair of small helicopters to the sample depot to retrieve the tubes left there. Percy collected samples in pairs so he could drop one and keep the other on board.
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Jezero Crater has an intriguing water history and is home to an ancient river delta region. The rock samples from the delta area are particularly exciting. Scientists hope they will give us a clue as to whether the red planet once hosted microbial life.
It’s an exciting time to be a rover on the red planet, and the sample depot project deserves a Martian selfie celebration. You look good Percy.